Search

Theatre review: 1936 at the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells

13:01 01 August 2012

John Webber and Tim Frances in 1936

John Webber and Tim Frances in 1936

Archant

Brilliant script and amazing performances bring to life compelling tale of the 1936 Berlin Olympics of Jesse Owens and the Nazis

Support your community by viewing your local businesses

Please wait

You will be able to read the article in 5 seconds

Thank you for supporting your local community

You may now read the article

»The eleventh Olympics are best remembered for two things: Jesse Owens and the Nazis.

So it is not surprising that Tom McNab’s 1936 focuses on these two things in 90 minutes of compelling theatre, which gave an insight into the politics of that summer’s Games.

The play takes the audience from a pre-Nazi Germany, still recovering from the ravages of World War One, into an ever-worsening international crisis which, as everyone knows, will end in the Second World War.

It looks at the behind-the-scenes and sometimes underhand negotiations between the International Olympic Committee and the Americans, as well as those between Goebels (John Webber) and Hitler (Tim Frances) – all for cancelling the Games until Goebels (in some wonderfully constructed scenes) convinces him of the PR opportunities.

But 1936 also highlights the arguments about race on both sides of the Atlantic, shining a torch on the hypocricy of the Americans as they decide whether or not to attend the Games because of Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies, all the while denying their best runner Owens (Cornelius Macarthy) a scholarship to university because of the colour of his skin.

But in no way is 1936 “preachy”. The brilliantly written script entertains from the moment the light first shines on journalist William Shirer (Ryan McCluskey), standing in the post-war ruins of Berlin looking back on events 12 years later.

A sulky Goebels turning to his mistress Christine Muller (Lauren St Paul) for advice on how to get Hitler to understand what the Olympics could do for Germany is certainly a highlight, while Coach Snyder’s casual racism towards Owens at the racetrack is something which no doubt stayed with the audience long afterwards.

All in all, a brilliant script, bought to life by some amazing performances - hell, I even got excited by the lighting - means this is one play you should definitely not miss this summer.

* 1936 is at the Lilian Baylis Studio, at Sadler’s Wells, Rosebery Avenue, EC1, until August 5

0 comments

Latest Entertainment Stories

Yesterday, 11:30
Neil Young - Storytone

Young offers fans intimate solo and lavishly orchestrated versions of the same songs, with typically mixed results.

Thu, 15:18
Paddington

With Christmas comes a host of movies to the big screen, from festive family comedies to action blockbusters. Here is our pick of the best out next month.

Thu, 10:33
The Chooky Dancers. photo by SYC Studios

This year the intimate surroundings of the Southbank’s Spiegeltent are again host to the motley crew of acrobats, divas and contortionists who together make up La Soiree.

Thu, 06:11
English musician Argentina vs Croatia

The iconic rocker is dusting off his debut album, Dirk Wears White Sox, for a series of shows this week at Islington Assembly Hall. Here, he explains the unique ethos behind his music that spurred the 1980s’ famous ‘Antmania’.

Most read entertainment

Protesters have been warned they are banned from setting up camp at the landmark.

John Cantlie features in the new IS video, in which he talks about a recent failed military attack.

From Britain First’s Facebook posts, you would assume they’d won the Rochester by-election. They didn’t, but they’re claiming it anyway.

At 100 years old, this was Ruby Holt’s first visit to the beach – and the first time she saw the ocean.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the $m.global.archantvariables.NewspaperTitle e-edition today E-edition