The setting of Tony Green’s play makes heavy use of the locations, alternate reality and (some) characters of Robert Harris’s Fatherland. That book is set in a world where Germany won WW2. The new Germania is hoping to end a Cold War with the USA and, to cover up the awful reality of the Holocaust (a crime unknown to the wider world), senior officials involved in the original planning are being killed off.
As we took our seats, the stark, functional, grey setting was emotive of monochrome movies such as The Third Man and even Schindler’s List and, with the addition of well chosen slides, made a good job of getting us into the brutal reality of Harris’s Nazi Germania.
In the programme notes, Tony Green explains that Good and Faithful Servants is, effectively , a prequel to the events of Fatherland. His staging also homages some aspects of the Rutger Hauer TV movie, including the use of TV news broadcasts, delivered here by Lucy O’Reilly. Several of the central characters are Harris’s: Kriminalpolizei officers investigating a series of murders.
There is very little actual action, and most of the plot is delivered by largely black-clad people talking to each other about what has happened on a very darkly-lit set, which serves as a variety of locations across Berlin.
The play is assisted by good solid performances from the three principal investigators, played by John Hawkins, Alex Jenkins and Adam Blake. They, along with the likeable forensic pathologist (Jon Crowley), deliver most of the central plot.
There are also some good cameos - from Duncan Blagrove as the General, Lynne Smith as Frau Inke and David Fardon as the professor.
The necessarily episodic nature of the plot, even when linked by some clever tech stuff and lot of TV news broadcasts, meant that it was a challenge at times to sustain pace but the packed audience remained engaged throughout.
It was great to be back again watching a play in a busy and buzzy Unicorn Theatre.
Willkommen zurück, Live-Theater (With thanks to Google translate!).