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Review: Hitler’s Dad/Therese and Isabelle

The Drama Society present a double bill of short plays as part of the society’s Autumn Season

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The University’s Drama Society presented a double-bill of Hitler’s Dad and Therese and Isabelle at The Three Minute Theatre as part of their Autumn Season; an evening of entertainment and intrigue, in the case of both plays.

Ollie Norton-Smith both wrote and directed Hitler’s Dad, which started off the ninety minutes with a terrific bang, using a tight cast of four who were completely believable, comfortable and captivating to watch.

Up next was Therese and Isabelle, a two-hander written by Wanda Pendrié and directed by both Pendrié and Tom Chambers, rounding off the night on a very thought-provoking note.

Hitler’s Dad took place in a mundane workplace break room, shown simply by two chairs and a small table, which was completely contrasted by the excitement, shock, and hilarity we felt as we tried to keep up with the character’s unremitting discussion.

It all started with a question of social media, posed by Sam (played by Aled Williams) to break the painful silence between himself and Char (Holly Willmott).

Williams was an intensely watchable presence at this moment and seemed to have the entire audience under his thumb, warming everyone up into bouts of laughter at his slapstick eating of a hard-boiled egg.

Even while watching, I wouldn’t have been able to explain how the conversation then jumped from the annoyances of social media to masturbation and then onto determinism, but that was the beauty of this play – I felt wonderfully lost and overwhelmed by the surrealism of the situation.

It was when Crerar Antony burst onto the stage as Lou that there was a real explosion of energy and vibrancy on the stage, and the stylistic nature of the play really came into its own.

Norton-Smith is seen as a bit of a physical theatre aficionado within the Drama Society and in this play, it certainly became clear why. The movement only heightened the comedy and the cast pulled it off brilliantly.

There were a couple of moments after what seemed to be a peak of the action, where I felt it was pushed a little too far and the movement slightly lost its worth.

But ultimately this play was a masterclass on just how to really captivate and thrill an audience in only twenty minutes.

Therese and Isabelle was also very funny at times, amidst some contrastingly touching and intriguing moments.

Therese’s character seemed to have the most depth as only she shared monologues with the audience that really reached into the dark and sad nature of the relationship between the two women.

Patience Kanjira performed her monologues very well, which would certainly have been challenging due to the whirlwind of emotions they encompassed.

However, it was hard to understand the real intentions of the play. Perhaps it needed a longer running time in order to really help us understand the nuances of the text.

Instead, when written to a length of only around twenty-five minutes, it seemed a little too condensed and superficially explored and I was unsure if the play was meant to come across as very symbolist or purely naturalistic.

At the ending of the play, the symbolism really came to light through two final scenes as Isabelle had paint smeared all over her body by Therese and finally, in a very sinister and compelling crescendo, Therese choked Isabelle by force-feeding her.

Whilst I felt a little uncertain of the intentions and drive of the play at times, perhaps this was itself an intention of the directors, which certainly resulted in a very provocative piece.

The Double Bill was the third production in the Drama Society’s Autumn Season. Tickets for the remainder of the season can be purchased from here.