A play, a pie and a pint at OranMor - review

Laughing at the Fuhrer C Byrne

Who better to play the lead than the writer himself? John Bett wrote, directed and performed this hard-hitting play about repression of the Arts in pre-war Germany.

Today's perception of politically correct is far removed from the Nazi interpretation. Put a foot wrong, drop a remark, look the wrong way at authority and in Luytken?s words you went on a one way ticket to the 'little village of Auchwitz.'

The stage is a room set with various pieces of furniture and there are back panels showing the Swastika. These panels seem to dominate, consistently drawing the eye and sending a message.

There is a cast of four - Luytken (John Bett) a comedy actor, Geisel (Michael Nardonne) an SS officer and musicians Robert Pettigrew and Duncan Black.

The play opens with light-hearted music that has the audience foot-tapping and applauding but then subtly changes when Geisel comes on stage dressed in his black SS uniform. He is the stereotypical image of the superior German master race as portrayed in endless British and American films, but what Glaswegians call an unconscious comedian, in that he takes himself so seriously.

Both actors are superb in the roles, suspending reality to the extent that the audience is intimidated by Giesel and fearful for Luytken.

Luytken is commanded to give a comedy performance without referring to the political situation or to leading figures in government. Of course he find this impossible and suffers the consequences.

You won't fall about Laughing at the Fuhrer but it is packed with humour, often so subtle that it could be missed. At the same time it brings us up short, looking again at the persecution and horror that was taking place under Hitler.

The play runs to Saturday (23rd October) so there is still time to see John Bett at Oran Mor. One not to be missed.

Laughing at the Fuhrer by John Bett is one of a series of lunchtime plays running at OranMor Autumn, 2004.
See the full programme