Big Brother Blitzkrieg – King’s Head Theatre

★★★★

Review by Terry Eastham 

In 1908 a young painter received a letter from Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts. He was very hopeful that he would be accepted for a place in the academy but alas this letter virtually repeated the wording of the one he had received a year before turning him down. Distraught, the young man picks up his gun uses it on himself. What happens next is the latest production at The King’s Head Theatre, Big Brother Blitzkrieg.

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Production Images (c) Jack Fisher

It’s a new day in the Big Brother House and out and proud Felix (Neil Summerville) finds a body lying in the garden. Getting very loud and over-excited – as is his wont – Felix calls the other housemates to come and see the new person who is starting to come to life. As is usual in Big Brother, the new housemate – it is our failed painter from the opening scene, one Adolf Hitler (Stephen Chance) – is called to the Diary Room where the voice of Big Brother (George Smith) welcomes Adolf to the house and explains the rules to him. After a bit of a test of wills, Adolf finally agrees to adhere to the rules of the house.

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Production Images (c) Jack Fisher

Back in the garden, Adolf gets to meet the rest of the housemates – dungaree wearing feminist Charlie (Hannah Douglas), PR guru Lucy (Jenny Jones) – think Katie Hopkins but nastier – young, and not too bright, wannabe rapper M-Cat (Kit Loyd) and finally ‘mother of the house’ Rachel (Tracey Ann Wood) to whom Adolf immediately takes a dislike. Despite not really knowing how he got there and not being keen on following BB’s rules, somehow Adolf manages to fit in with the majority of the housemates and even starts to build a little bit of a power base among some of the others.

There is something very wrong with Big Brother Blitzkrieg. Even allowing for the satirical side of Writer/Directors Hew Rous Eyre and Max Elton’s script, there are too many laughs in this show leaving me feeling a bit awkward by the end that I had enjoyed the comedy aspects so much.

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Production Images (c) Jack Fisher

Stephen Chance plays Adolf with an exaggerated German accent that adds to the character’s humorous side without completely sending him up. He also gave us some incite into the thinking behind the slogans which I found interesting. However, there were certain elements that didn’t work for me, particularly when Felix was sitting on Adolf’s knee in the Diary Room. Even allowing for the wackiness of the entire premise of the play, this was just completely wrong. The rest of the cast were a nice mixture of stereotypical Big Brother – or any other reality TV shows – contestants, complete with all the fake sympathy when one of them is evicted. Overall Big Brother Blitzkrieg is not a bad production though with a running time at just over an hour I think it was slightly too long. There is a scene concerning the writing of Mein Kampf which, to me, seemed superfluous and merely slowed the story. However, by the end I was invested in the production and really liked the way the writers had managed to demonstrate the undoubted charisma and political manoeuvring of Hitler – as he worked his magic on his fellow housemates – in a manner that went someway to explaining how he had been able to fool an entire nation.

There are holes in the plot – Adolf accepts his arrival in the house way too quickly – but, on the whole Big Brother Blitzkrieg.is an interesting take on one of the nastiest periods in human history. It doesn’t lecture but educates nicely whilst providing some real laughs along the way.

Big Brother Blitzkrieg – King’s Head Theatre

★★★★

Review by Terry Eastham

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