Edinburgh Fringe 2017
This very young company manage to bring pathos and energy to one of the most fascinating tales of the Nazi era. With such fortitude and bravery this small band of merry fellows, the Edelweiss Pirates, managed to mount some form of opposition to the occupation of the German mind whilst the theatricality of both testimony and the narrative are deftly handled throughout by Parker and Snell. The inevitable ending of tragedy has at least got the tinge of hope in the resistance fought for a better world and increased freedom.
The story goes that a number of young people from the age of 14 to around 17 were able to evade conscription into the Hitler Youth and mount anti fascist activities within Nazi Germany. This group of Pirates is threatened first when they hide one of their Jewish friends and then allow a deserter to hide along with him. Tensions rise until the resistance becomes more physical and action is taken. The upshot of this is of course retribution of the most appalling kind.
We enter to semi darkness and a number of the chorus/narrators, dressed all in black stationed at various points throughout the auditorium. Their function is to literally illuminate the back story and some of the context. There is enough drama in the telling of this story that could keep a number of companies going for some time, however here the focus on hiding one Jew and then finding a deserter brings sufficient tension and allows an exploration of the major issues of the time as well as the problems and fears of those who thought it brave to stand up against the tyranny.
That their deserter turns out to be from the SS increases the confusion and the script does manage to provide enough drama to keep these very able young actors occupied. With the soliloquies and the occasional interruption from the chorus we have a tremendously real feel of the tragedy unfolding in front of us. The script though does, at times, deliver a few clunkers and some of the exposition feels more staged than it ought to.
The standard of acting is very high. There is little point in singling anyone out as there is a very real feel of the collective about the piece and much credit has to be given to the young people who deliver a skilled performance.
Theatre arts are well used, costume is appropriate and the lighting and sound well executed. The only niggle I had was, if your torch has a dodgy battery – don’t point it at people with no light – it doesn’t look clever.
Overall then this is a bit of a triumph and considering the issue at play here that can only be applauded. When I went to see them it was their opening performance and I can imagine that as time goes on they shall begin to bring more experience and slicker attention to the details. As it stands though it is pretty on the money.