Park Theatre, London
Written by Ben Brown
Directed by Alan Strachan
The End of the Night is a play that charts the remarkable, actual event of a meeting between Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler’s Reichsfuhrer and Norbert Masur, a Swedish representative of the World Jewish Congress. The meeting, brokered by Himmler’s masseuse Felix Kersten took place in the final weeks of World War Two at Kersten’s country estate just outside Berlin and achieved an outcome of seeing the negotiated release of several thousand women from Nazi concentration camps.
Writer Ben Brown was wise in spotting the dramatic potential of this meeting. Played out in the intimate cockpit of London’s Park Theatre, this should have been an enthralling night of theatre. But the enormity of the subject matter overwhelms both Brown’s narrative and the performance of Ben Caplan as Masur. There is too much poorly crafted irony in the script, alongside moments of tedious narrative that a sharper literary mind night have honed to greater linguistic counterpoint. And Caplan, who is tasked with delivering a truly complex challenge in managing Masur’s encounter with one of the architects of the Holocaust, fails to master his character’s depths.
There is sound and measured work from Richard Clothier (Himmler) and Michael Lumsden (Kersten), making the best of the script that they are given, but even so it all drags far more than a story of such magnitude deserves.
There is a fine and noble history lesson that is told at the Park. If only Alan Strachan’s production could match the greatness of its underlying story.
Runs until 28th May
Photo credit: Mark Douet