Snapshot of tyrant is compelling work

21:45, Jan 30 2014

Review : Hitler, a Study In Tyranny

By Kit Stevens

Picton Little Theatre  

This play was always going to be fascinating, not least because the back-story and outcome were already known.

The subject committed a well recorded suicide immediately after the time period presented in the play.

Add to that the fact that the subject was one of the world's most despised tyrants and the play was sure to be challenging.


The first act looks at Adolf Hitler through the eyes of his personal valet Heinz Linge, a man who saw Hitler as, "a good boss". He reminisces about such things as Hitler's many spectacles, his nightshirts, his shaving habits (with insights about that moustache), his breakfast preferences and even his trouble with flatulence.

Linge describes the suicide of Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun dispassionately, and saves his strongest emotion for when he relates the deaths of Joseph Goebbels' children.

After 40 minutes of Stevens presenting a valet's recollection of Hitler that was at times endearing, I was braced after the interval for a representation of the Fuehrer that might in some horrifying way present him as normal.

And therein lies the strength of this play. When we meet Stevens' Hitler in 20 minutes of intense self-justified posturing, striding and waving arms with manic bursts of paranoid emotion, he is just like we imagined. And that is chillingly reassuring.

Stevens, the actor, switches from a mild-mannered servant to an impassioned dictator, complete with twitching hand movements, with consummate skill.

And Stevens, the writer, did not make the mistake of trying to cover all the facts, and all the issues, surrounding Hitler's last days.

Well researched, it is, as the title indicates, a study; a snapshot of tyranny at a specific moment in history. And as such, it is a compelling piece of theatre.

The play is being presented at 8pm again today and tomorrow.