This absorbing and interesting play is so well written and acted that previous knowledge of the historical context is not needed. However, thoughtfully, the programme notes tell us all we need to know. Briefly, in late 1944, Raoul Wallenberg (played by John Marshall) a Swedish diplomat, risked his life by providing neutral Swedish passports to Jewish Hungarians, which gave them protection from the Gestapo and Hungarian fascists. Thousands of Hungarian Jews were rescued. In January 1945 the Russians arrested him as a spy and he was never seen again. In this play by Catherine Comfort, Wallenberg shares a Soviet prison cell with a fictional character, Stefan (Benji Mingh) and is haunted by memories and dreams from the past.
The play itself is about ninety minutes long. There is an interval after about 30 minutes – a pity, I feel, as the mood created by impressive acting is diminished a little by the gap. The entire play revolves round the prison cell, but is hugely enhanced by use of film. The background film shows Wallenberg‘s memories and dreams. Each section is short, with the exception of a cold Russian (played by Alex Babic). His performance in particular is chilling – as too is that of Miriam (Amy Enticknap), who plays a girl left behind.
The acting by Marshall and Mingh is excellent and the whole play well worth seeing. An imaginative set (by Lisa Thomas) simply complements this superbly directed (by Tania Higgins) piece. Yes, I have minor complaints - the carrying of the latrine, the use of ’fuck‘ rather than ’fick/ficker‘ - but these do not detract from the overall effect. It would also have been interesting if the script or programme notes had mentioned Carl Lutz, Wallenberg‘s predecessor, who taught Wallenberg how to help the Jewish people.
The play is only on for one more night – grab your chance to see it whilst you can, and bring your friends. You will not be disappointed.