Tuesday, 31 October 2017

'Christmas Eve' at the Ustinov Studio

Earlier this year I saw a play at the Ustinov studio called The Mentor. It was by a German playwright, Daniel Kehlmann, and was very good. So when I saw that they were putting on another of his plays, Christmas Eve, I decided to book a ticket and see that, too.

Despite the title, this is not a cheery festive play. It's set entirely in a police interview room, somewhere in Germany, on Christmas Eve. It premiered in Vienna earlier this year, and this production is the UK premiere.

Anti-terror police officer Thomas (Patrick Baladi) is interviewing Philosophy professor Judith (Niamh Cusack) who is suspected of involvement in a planned terrorist incident. 

We get to watch as Judith is questioned, learning that she was in a taxi when she was stopped, and brought to be questioned, about... what, exactly? 

Writings saved on her laptop, which may or may not be preparation for a philosophy seminar? Her left-wing views, and past travels in South America? Her relationship with her former husband?

The audience is kept guessing as to whether this is an example of state paranoia, and oppression, as Judith argues, or whether there is a genuine terror threat. 

Despite the subject matter, there are comic moments - Thomas explaining to Judith that while she is entitled to have a written record of her right, it will be  terrible hassle to get a copy as it's christmas and all the typists are off (and she eventually gets an illegible, handwritten copy)

It's very well done. See it if you can.

It's on at Bath until 19th November.

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