World War II recommendations

There is always a goodly sprinkle of shows at the Fringe with a focus on war.

These are three that I found around World War II that intrigued me, as telling an unknown story or taking a look behind the scenes of an iconic generation defining moment

                        Hitler’s tasters

A dark comedy about the young women who had the “honour” of being Adolf Hitler’s food tasters. Based on true events, Hitler’s Tasters explores the way girls navigate sexuality, friendship, patriotism, and the possibility of poison in every meal, during the Third Reich.

Using an anachronistic approach than spans the present day and the 1940s they retell the story of an historical footnote, Hitler’s Tasters considers what girls discuss as they wait to see if they will survive another meal.

Overall, this is a highly original, engaging and striking piece of ensemble work. One that brings to the surface the experience of a little known group of women and in doing so flags up quite a lot of parallels to today’s world…

Our full review is here:

To book:


Takes place in the run-up to Chamberlain’s declaration of war, and includes popular songs of WWII. It’s a powerful portrait of a man who desperately wanted to do the right thing, to avoid war, but got it wrong.

David Leeson, playing Chamberlain, is described in our review from 2017 as delivering ‘finely studied character acting… fine attention to detail, accomplished performances, apt and delightfully delivered music’.

I particularly liked that we hear the whole of that world changing speech, not just the famous bit at the beginning. It gives a real senses of being there, I found myself wondering where people I know were at the time, where they listened to it.

You can read our full review here:

And to catch one of the finals shows for 2019 


A fictitious talk show with a live audience, featuring a guest from the afterlife: Käthe Petersen. A seemingly selfless social worker who was active between the years 1932 and 1966 in Germany. But behind the facade of medals and apparent good works lies something else…

‘Social Worker’ somewhat understates both her position and power; she was highly intelligent and well qualified, having studied law and political science, psychology and economics and from 1937 was the deputy director of the Hamburg welfare department.

Not strictly a wartime story but the early events of the story take place during the period of the Third Reich and Kathe Petersen  was almost certainly influenced by Nazi notions of the ideal German woman. The beginning of the story lies in Nazi Germany and the National Socialist ideal of women as pure, perfect, home makers, where ‘fallen women’ are seen as the carriers of sexually transmitted disease, immoral and in need of re-education, in camps very close to the concentration camps. Such notions persisted beyond the Third Reich,  until the 1970s. Peterson’s mission was to watch over such women and over nearly forty years she placed thousands of women in re-education facilities where forced labour and sterilisation were part of the programme. The story is all the more shocking for being one of a woman treating fellow women so harshly.

Overall, this is a hidden gem that is well worth the walk to find. A must see for anyone interested in discovering not only a little known but very influential figure from the Nazi era but also exploring events that  still influence attitudes to women now.

Read our full review here:

To book: 

Kate Saffin