Sydney Independent Theatre Company’s Lies, Love & Hitler written by Elizabeth Avery and directed by Rochelle Whyte is a play about sex, politics and religion. A trinity story about Dr. Paul Langley a theologian professor who closely studies the life work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer a priest during WW 2 who helped plot to kill Hitler. Dr Paul Langley slightly mad has conversations with the dead man. Falling in love with one of his students Dr Langley finds himself in a moral Dilemma that creates internal toil and conflict. Bonhoeffer and Langley discuss his options and humanities moral code. What is right and what is wrong? Where does religion fit in all of it, when both are meant to be ambassadors of religious belief and discussion.
Love, Lies & Hitler is a wonderfully intelligent piece of writing. Playwright Elizabeth Avery Scott has written a story with tremendous clarity of thought. An interesting discussion and historical reflection of events side by side with a possible modern day current circumstance. Questions you begin to ask yourself and are asked by director Rochelle Whyte about your own moral standing on public circumstances regarding figure tyrants like Hitler and how your moral compass may decide what you would do if you were these characters is a fun personal exploration. The questions raised are strong and subjective according to ones personal view and belief of the world. Director Rochelle Whyte did well in conveying this bold and meaty play within the small and quaint space of the Old Fitzroy. The immediate stakes of audience responsibility by using us as apart of the story on the get go was a wise choice considering the work is written in a real theological debating matter with a lot to mentally digest. This choice indeed assisted in drawing in the audience to feel very much apart of each step the characters took.
James Scott, playing Langley held himself strongly throughout the production with humour and a continuous feeling of contempt towards himself and his struggles. I enjoyed Scott’s performance and his ability to transition between Langley and his smaller characters.
Doug Chapman, playing Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a wonderful casting choice by Rochelle Whyte. Besides Chapman’s uncanny resemblance to the historical figure his delivery was grounded and naturalistic. A believable figment of Langley’s imagination. A strong performance from both gentlemen.
Ylaria Rogers, played Hannah/Hermione. Rogers interpretation of Hannah (Langley’s student love interest) was direct and precise, though a humorous performance when needed I felt Rogers stakes were a lot higher being the only female part of this trinity performance and therefore the expectation also was higher. Rogers characters naturally have a very different emotional current to that of her male co stars. Therefore I would have liked to have seen more light and shade in her performance. There were many an occasion where the tone of the writing clearly had changed but Rogers did not change with that tone. The relationship between Hannah and Langley and their mutual visions of Bonhoffer felt like the DNA double helix and I was wishing to see this manifest continuously throughout their journey but felt a lack of contrast from Rogers performance which at times came across a little abrupt and thin.
Overall the cast and crew came together to create a beautiful piece of interesting and compelling work of theatre they should all be proud of. The passion was not lacking, and the commitment to the art form was honouring. Lies, Love & Hitler is a marvellous theatrical encounter that is designed to be discussed afterwards over a red wine late into the night. Reminding us that right and wrong is in the eye of the beholder, and it’s not always as black & white, nor are the answers to life’s questions and struggles as easy to conclude.
Lies, Love & Hitler runs until May 3rd. Get a ticket and a bite to eat at the Old Fitzroy don’t miss out.