The End of the Night by Ben Brown. ParkTheatre, Clifton Terrace, London N4 to 28 May 2022. 3***. William Russell.

The story is true, director and cast are experienced and very able as is Ben Brown, whose A Splinter of Ice also directed by Alan Strachan was one of the best productions of Original Theatre whose on line work was one of the beacons of hope during the lockdown. It is an intriguing tale, it is undeniably a revelation to many, and yet somehow or other nothing worked. It could have been waxworks for all one cared up there on the stage. The press night reaction the day before I went – it clashed with Orlando – was quite different so what went wrong? It is all to true that the behaviour of live theatre is something impossible to predict. This is not to deter anyone from going. The play lasts 80 minutes and it raises all sorts of interesting issues and delivers a lot of information that will be new to many. It certainly was to me. But after the superb A Splinter of Ice about a meeting between Kim Philby and Grahame Greene it is a sad disappointment. In the closing stages of the war Himmler’s masseur Felix Kersten, who lived in Sweden but had a house in Germany and was able to travel there, arranged a meeting between him and Norbert Masur, a representative of the World Jewish Congress in a bid to get the women inmates of Ravensbruck concentrationn camp released to the Red Cross and taken to Sweden. Himmler agreed to the meeting and was persuaded to release some women – in the event more were saved than he had offered. The game was up for the Nazis and Hitler, Himmler seems to have seen himself as the only person the Allies would negotiate with, although as the architect of the concentration camp system it is surprising, and saw himself as Hitler’s successor. It is an amazing encounter, an astounding true event but somehow or other the play just does not come to life. Perhaps everyone involved was exhausted from the night before. There was a moderate House, second nights can be flat, but those present received the piece warmly enough. But such a tale should have set the pulses racing. Instead one left feeling an opportunity had been missed.

Jeanne Bommezjin: Olivia Bernstone.
Norbert Masur: Ben Caplan.
Heinrich Himmler: Richard Clothier.
Felix Kirsten: Michael Lumsden.
Elizabeth Lube: Audrey Palmer.
Voice of Goebbels: David Horovitch.

Director: Alan Strachan.
Set & Costume Designer: Michael Pavelka.
Lighting Designer: Jason Taylor.
Sound Designer: Gregory Clarke.
Costume Supervisor: Emma Williams.
Production Photography: Mark Douet.

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