‘Good’ premiered at the Donmar Warehouse in London in 1981 and now, after several delays due to the pandemic, returns to the West End for a ten-week run at the Harold Pinter Theatre starring Doctor Who’s David Tennant.
It’s 1933 and John Halder (Tennant) is a German Professor who has been handpicked to join the Nazi party, following publication of his book about pro-euthanasia. It is an interesting story in the sense that we rarely hear stories about the War from the perspective of those who were the protagonists and raises the point that some people will have joined the movement, thinking it wouldn’t be as bad as people thought and how there is ‘good’ in everyone and they just needed the right guidance. But power clouds the vision and sometimes we get swept up in the moment and forget what our ambitions originally were.
The play is essentially three actors, on stage, in a grey box – cold and clinical. David Tennant plays John Halder, Elliot Levey (Maurice) the Jewish friend who acts as a sounding board for John throughout much of the play and Sharon Small (Helen) as John’s senile mother, wife and mistress. The three actors flit back and forth through characters, time periods and conversations which doesn’t make it particularly easy to follow. John is haunted by classical music that blocks out parts of his life and he is torn between lust and love.
‘Good’ isn’t a particularly easy pill to swallow, both with the subject matter and the way in which it is presented. I struggled to follow and understand it and so feel a younger generation may too which is a shame as it is obviously an important story to be told. Because of the nature of the characters, you don’t ever feel particularly drawn to them and so aren’t really invested in what happens to them which is a shame.
The show has received rave reviews and so I am obviously missing something – which probably says more about me, than the play.
West End Wilma