The Beautiful Future by Rita Kalnejais. Jermyn Street Theatre, London to 11 September 2021. 3***. William Russell.

Given that the Beautiful Future’s director Chirolles Khalil and designer Niall McKeever have come up with an interesting approach a how to stage it, I was still left at sea as to when and where it was all taking place for far too long. By the time I had grasped just when and where it was happening – not some dystopian future as it at first seemed but in a documented past – the damage had been done. Nor was the programme much help as McKeever’s explanation took some finding and one does not necessarily read programmes in advance. That said, it soon became clear it was the last days of the Second World War and a young French girl and a German soldier, who had fallen in love, were meeting as the world collapsed around them. Setting it in a present day sound studio may add some relevance to today, but I feel the play can stand on its own two feet as it were. However, the performances by Katie Eldred as Elodie, the young girl in Chartres finding first love, hoping to meet him again, and managing it, and Freddie Wise as Otto, the young soldier who has been totally seduced by the myth of the great Hitler – who knows how damaged is his past that he needs someone to worship – are very good and up to the demands of the play. The inspiration seems to have been one of those post war photographs of what happened to French women who had collaborated with the Germans, one in particular being of a girl who refused to bow her head in shame. Whoever she was, the anonymous girl did have a point. Sometimes to survive you have to do things that otherwise you would not do and sleeping with a soldier is not the worst of them although it may offend the morals of the society to which you belong. She is not seeking anything other than love, that they are meeting in a flat that once was owned by Jews means really nothing to her, and he is obsessed with doing what his idol would wish him to do.
The result is a suspenseful 70 minutes as the allies advance and their romantic meetings – she has found some about to be hatched eggs – are ruined by the bombing. Eventually they take to the streets where fate catches up on each in different ways. But that is not quite the end as we go back to the beginning. Those eggs did hatch. It runs until September 11.

Elodie: Katie Eldred.
Otto: Freddie Wise.
Director: Chirolles Khalil.
Designer: Niall McKeever.
Sound Designer: Katy Hustwick.
Lighting and Projection Designer: Timothy Kelly.
Movement Director: Max Keeble.
Photograph: Steve Gregson.

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