Edinburgh Fringe 2014
A monologue which attempt to get at the heart of Emmy Goering, who as the wife of Hermann Goering (Second in command to Hitler) was at the centre of the Third Reich. As she sips champagne still glamorous, still in evening dress, she talks of her early career, her marriage, her adored Fuhrer and her old friend, the actor Gustav Gruendgens.
It is 1973. Emmy Goering is reminiscing about her life at the side of her husband Hermann at the centre of the Third Reich. She is in evening dress and is sipping champagne.
Emma Sonnemann, daughter of a chocolate manufacturer, met Herman Goering (at the time second in commade to Hitler) in 1931. Hermann adored her and attended the theatre regularly. They married in 1935 with Hitler in attendance. She continued to work as a professional actress after moving to Berlin with her new husband but soon came under pressure to abandon the stage to be a political wife. Their daughter Edda was born in 1938 and had Hitler as Godfather. Emmy was flamboyant and often outspoken. In her memoirs ‘At the side of my Husband’ (1973) she describes her role as apolitical despite often acting as First Lady at the side of Hitler. This play draws on her memoirs and other historical sources. As she sips champagne she talks of her early career, her marriage, her adored Fuhrer and her old friend, the actor Gustav Gruendgens.
The set is simple; a small table, two chairs, a glass of champagne and coffee. The use of two chairs from the venue’s outdoor café area jarred a little – in such a small set each item must contribute to the story and these took us out of Emmy’s world as she struggled to make sense of all the confusing voices and memories in her head.
As Emmy, actress Karin Pettenburger talks of meeting Herman, her marriage, dancing with Hitler (whom she always refers to as the Fuhrer), her garden at Carinhall, the war years, which she describes as the best of her life. As the play progresses she becomes more sentimental often confusing then and now, the voices of the different men in her life who came to sound similar. Pettenburger gives a strong, driven performance that rarely loses pace. The story is not always easy to follow but that seems to be an intentional part of the writing, we are watching a women for whom the past is more real than the present and who is disintegrating as she tries to make sense of it. Some of the movement around the tiny stage felt vague and there for movements sake. A little more work on why she is moving and the purpose of the shifts may well bring a greater clarity to the text. This would help audiences who are unfamiliar with Emmy Goering’s life and place in the Third Reich grasp more details in what is an extraordinary story.
Overall, this is a fascinating exploration of the life of a woman who was at the heart of one of the most powerful dictatorships the world has known.