|A German Life|
A German Life is an extraordinary theatrical tour-de-force from three titans of the theatre – Australia’s finest stage performer Robyn Nevin in an astonishing play by Christopher Hampton, directed by stage luminary Neil Armfield.
In the Australian Premiere of this highly demanding 90-minute solo triumph, Robyn Nevin plays Brunhilde Pomsel, an unassuming woman with good shorthand skills who, almost by chance, came to work in Joseph Goebbels’s Propaganda Ministry.
Pomsel struggled to make ends meet as a secretary in Berlin during the 1930s, her many employers including a Jewish insurance broker, the German Broadcasting Corporation – eventually Goebbels – before she emerged from the rubble near Hitler’s bunker waving a white pillowcase to the approaching Russian troops in April 1945.
Innocent or culpable? That’s the question at the heart of Christopher Hampton’s searching play, which was compiled from testimony of the then 103-year-old for the 2014 documentary A German Life. One of the last actively involved witnesses to the rise, fall and aftermath of the Third Reich, Brunhilde is intelligent and likeable, honest and credible. She doesn’t hide her youthful ignorance at the regime’s atrocities, her awe at finding herself at the heart of power, nor does she show any false remorse. Her refusal to think too hard about what was going on and focus instead on her own life, raises confronting questions for contemporary audiences. As social catastrophe creeps closer and only united action can stop it, how do we recognise that moment? How do we seize it?
Venue: Playhouse, QPAC, Cnr Grey and, Melbourne St, South Brisbane QLD 4101