Andrea Leoncini for LWL Entertainment Ltd. present Savage at Above the Arts
Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JB
June 29th 2016 – July 23rd 2016
Monday – Saturday, 7:30pm
Saturday matinees, 2:30pm
Playwright and Director Claudio Macor
Designed by David Shields
Costume Design by Jamie Attle
Lighting Designer Hector Murray
Choreographer Adam Scown
Review by Richard Lambert, **** 4 Stars
In the late 1930s, Danish doctor Carl Peter Værnet discovered what he believed to be “the cure for
homosexuality”, and was given a prominent post at the Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald. After the liberation by Allied forces, Dr Værnet was allowed to flee to South America, where he continued to experiment on thousands of live subjects, with the full knowledge of both the British and Danish authorities.
David Shields’ slightly shabby set of tiles convey a sense that something’s not quite right in the clinic where the medical treatments are performed. The overhead oyster pearl lamp shade, along with the chintzy table lamp on the piano, shout 40’s East German chic. The set flats are on trucks so they can move and rotate to create different locations, all slickly directed by Claudio Macor, who is also the playwright.
Claudio’s direction is fast paced. With little room to breathe and gripping subject matter, the play moves swiftly along. The cast are stellar with stand out performances from Emily Lynne and Bradley Clarkson. Emily’s song is just so beautiful! It comes from nowhere (I would have preferred the backing track came from a radio or gramaphone, inspiring Emily to sing along…..) but once Emily starts singing you’ll forgive and understand why it was added!!! Just wonderful!
The Cabaret nightclub, channeling shades of the Kit Kat club, has a projected logo to signify the setting. However when the projection is low and significantly splashes onto the Cast it might be more obtrusive than worthy. The 2nd half of the show opens with projected war film footage but unfortunately it’s not good quality and somehow feels a little out of place and irrelevant.
The costumes are lavish, period and truly remarkable! The show design just brilliant!
What’s especially nice about this play is that it’s a new perspective on the War. It’s predominantly set in Denmark and highlights Danish (and other) society’s perception that homosexuality is a disease needing treatment. With support from the 3rd Reich via a conflicted General, who has sex with men, it shocks and educates in equal measure. Claudio’s bold writing and fearless cast bring a realism to the issues that are both gripping and reverential. You never doubt for one second the Cast are who they claim to be, you can see it in their eyes, they way they interact, and their body language. There is nudity in the clinic which reflects the attitude of the Doctor – a man who treats his patients brutually and without compassion. An attitude that’s upheld by Society and the law, viz, homosexuals are criminals who should be stripped of dignity and respect.
There is room for technical improvements to the production, however, this is the play to see that you’ll not forget! Catch it while you can as it’s a limited run!!!