Review: Hitler's Tasters at Greenside

Michelle Kholos Brooks’ play Hitler’s Tasters, directed by Sarah Norris, manages to be both irritating and masterful. It is partly based on historical fact, dramatising the lives of Adolf Hitler’s (un)lucky female food tasters, whose job it was to ensure that the Führer was not poisoned. Except, in this production, the girls possess smart phones, and are obsessed with selfies. Hitler’s Tasters therefore exists in a liminal space, simultaneously the mid-twentieth century and the early twenty-first century.

What’s more, since New Light Theater Project is an American company, the actresses are all American – very American. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but it’s rather grating hearing them butcher the pronunciation of certain German words that are awkwardly slotted into the dialogue. Nor are the characters particularly likeable – but then, how could they be, considering their adoration of Adolf Hitler? Even if we don’t like them, we can still, at least to an extent, sympathise with their plight.

Although ostensibly a comedy, Hitler’s Tasters obviously deals with some dark subject matter, and it is at times uncomfortable. Hallie Griffin, in particular, stands out as Liesel, capable of conveying both vacuousness and depth. Chilling parallels are made between the Third Reich and our own times, for instance, the not-too-subtle line about Hitler wanting to ‘make Germany great again’.

Hitler’s Tasters is at times bizarre, often provocative and consistently disturbing. It has the same effect as Wes Wilson’s poster Are We Next? from 1965, which crosses the US flag with the Nazi swastika.

Hitler’s Tasters, Greenside Venue, until 24th August (not 18), 6.35pm

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