Theatre review: Hitler's Tasters, Greenside @ Infirmary Street, Edinburgh

Hitlers Tasters, Greenside @ Infirmary Street   (Venue 236)
Hitlers Tasters, Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236)
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IT’S ONE of those weird and disturbing footnotes to the history of the Third Reich; the idea that wherever Hitler went, he was accompanied by a group of young women whose job it was to taste the food that had been prepared for him, and wait for an hour to see whether they would die of poisoning, before it was put before the Fuhrer.

Hitler's Tasters, Greenside @ Infirmary Street, Edinburgh * * *

In Michelle Kholos Brooks’s play for the New Light Theatre Project of New York, these girls are reimagined as modern teenagers, chatting in the language of 21st century High School movies, and snapping themselves on their mobile phones. Yet the chilling undercurrents of their chat are always clear, as one disappears for suspected Jewish connections, and another - the most Nazi of them all - because her highly-placed father has turned renegade.

READ MORE: All the Scotsman critics 5-star reviews from the 2019 Festivals

Directed with real style and feeling by Sarah Norris, the play features five impressive performances, and - like The Desk at Summerhall - explores the extent to which the improbable figure of Hitler somehow became a focus for the loyalty, dreams, and erotic fantasies of an entire nation. And if the oh-my-gosh language and mobile-phone flashing eventually comes to seem like a trope extended a little too far, it is sadly never hard to imagine the people who - if Nazism had come in the age of the mobile phone - would indeed have dreamed of snapping a selfie with Hitler, just as these girls do, through their long days of boredom and fear.


Until 25 August

Joyce McMillan

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