The Story of Sophie Scholl
by Ross McGregor.
Based on A Noble Treason by Richard Hanser.
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 4 August 2018.
Tues-Sat 7.30 pm.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell 19 July.
The price of standing up for freedom
Sophie Scholl and her brother were part of a small group of university students in Munich who in 1943 started an organisation which published pamphlets under the name of The white Rose calling on people to overthrow Hitler. It was a futile, in some ways foolish and badly run operation but they did attract support and they were duly arrested by the Gestapo and sentenced to death. Their pamphlets were later used by the Allies and dropped all over Germany. It is a story worth telling – most Germans simply went along with things under Hitler as the easier option who had, after all, saved them from the horrors of what happened after the First World War. The universal “ignorance” about the death camps and what was happening to the Jews is a case in point.
Ross McGregor as dramatist has crafted an efficient telling of her story and as director secured very good performances from a cast led impressively by Lucy Ioannou as Sophie, Will Pinchin as her idealistic brother Hans and Christopher Tester as his interrogator. But as director he has also overegged the pudding rather too much at times with slow motion balletic dance sequences and the use of a chorus of menacing thugs in black wearing gas masks and helmets who look like escapees from a Star War movie grates. He should have trusted his own material more. While the bravery and foolhardiness and the dreadful ends of these young people is not in doubt they are also a deeply annoying bunch.
Sophie is hard to like, her brother impossibly innocent in the ways of the world – even when they discover their phone line is being tapped he reveals he has known something was wrong anyway, and as for the folly of typing one’s leaflets on a typewriter with a dysfunctional key – one wants to tell them to stop rabbiting on about Schiller and having discussions abut the ethics of what they are doing and focus on the work in hand. But this is presumably how they behaved.
In many respects it is a striking and ambitious affair, no surprise from Arrow & Traps, an enterprising company. Effective use is made of film of the time projected on a screen at the back of the set to set the scene, although no credit is given for whoever selected the images in the programme unless it is Cornelia Baumann listed as editor.
Sophie’s story deserves to be told. But it is hard to pinpoint just why the production for all its merits somehow fails to move, to anger although the warning about how a society ruled by fear, which is what the Nazis achieved, can ignore what is going on until too late comes over loud and clear.
Else Gebel: Cornelia Baumann.
Fritz Hartnagel: Freddie Cambanakis.
Sophie Scholl: Lucy Ioannou.
Alexander Schmorrell: Conor Moss.
Hans Scholl: Will Pinchin.
Christoph Probst: Pearce Sampson.
Willi Graf: Alex Stevens.
Robert Mohr: Christopher Tester.
Traute Lafrenz: Beatrice Vincent.
Voice of Roland Freisler: Andrew Wickes.
Director: Ross McGregor.
Designer: Odin Corie.
Lighting Designer: Ben Jacobs.
Sound Designer: Alistair Lax.
Movement Director: Roman Berry.
Editor: Cornelia Baumann.
Voice-over recording: Christopher Tester.