Sophie Scholl

Tue 16th – Sat 20th October 2012

reviews

Lai Lin Yeoh

at 00:00 on 17th Oct 2012

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A poignant remembrance of one of the greatest heroines of history, Sophie Scholl is the first ever English stage adaptation of Sophie Scholl- The Final Days, a Best Foreign Movie Nominee at the 2006 Academy Awards. It was a commendable staging of the world famous inspirational story telling of the passion and courage of one of history's greatest heroines and a play that leaves one with many thoughts.

The focus of the play, being on Sophie, appeared very well thought out, as evident in her characterization as a determined and passionate young woman who was stubborn in her beliefs, perhaps just as the audience had imagined her to be. It was a job well done, being able to maintain her defiance and hard-headedness while exposing her softer, more tender side in her small monologues to her fiance, Fitz.

The other actors all played their role fairly well, bringing depth and colour to the play. A noticeably strong actor played the role of the head judge who sentenced Sophie to her death and helped in keeping the energy level up towards the end of the play.

When the play first began the chemistry between actors seemed a little abrupt and awkward at times but as the play went on and increased in intensity things seemed to iron themselves out. There came a particularly engaging scene where Sophie participates in a heated dialogue with the detective and they embark on an impressively philosophical discussion of the greater themes of conscience, justice and morality. It is in detention where most of the play is set that the relationships are allowed to progress which is perhaps why interactions between the actors appear smoother, especially so between Sophie and the detective and Sophie and Elsa, another detainee with whom she shares a cell.

For a play of relatively little action and a lot of dialogue, one could imagine that holding the attention and engagement of the audience may be a possible problem. However, the use of tension in certain scenes that was very well managed and kept the audience drawn into the story, making them feel fully involved in Sophie's plight.

Especially impressive was also the smooth transition between scenes which was allowed by a simple yet well planned set and also the use of symbolism throughout the play; especially that of young Sophie who opened the play and made brief appearances during each scene being representative of the hope and faith with which our heroine had held throughout her life.

The play also remembered and highlighted to the concerns and socio-political issues of Sophie's Germany, recalling the horrors of the Jewish holocaust and the extermination of disabled children in pursuit of Hitler's perfect Aryan race as discussed during her interrogation sessions with the detective.

In all its sadness and seriousness, it was only perhaps a little odd that the actors spoke in heavy British accents (perhaps German ones might have worked better). Otherwise, it was a very well played story of an admirable character who will always be fondly remembered for her bravery.

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Bara Golanova

at 00:01 on 17th Oct 2012

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Sophie Scholl is a gripping story, which would probably move you even if it were just on stage. The fact that it is based on a true story, gives the theatre adaptation much more strength. The piece tells us of two members of the passive resistance group the White Rose in Nazi Germany. Sophie and her brother, Hanz, take a great risk when distributing anti-Nazi leaflets around the university in Munich, a risk, which in the end does not pay off (or does it?).

Most of the play is focused around the interrogation process of Sophie, giving Charlotte Hamblin (Sophie) and Will Attenborough (Robert Mohr) a lot of space to develop their characters.

Hamblin's performance was quite persuasive, portraying a woman very strong in her beliefs and undoubtedly courageous, though sometimes this proud and stoic image made her move away from convincingly showing the emotional side of a young woman, who might be, in the end of this all, sentenced to death. Attenborough played the lead interrogator with a humaneness that one could sometimes not even believe to be present. He was careful, however, not to let this side overpower his portrayal of a man blinded by Nazi ideals to an extent at which human ideals are put aside. The contrast of the two characters, as well as their similarities, were played out brilliantly. In fact, the point of sincere discussion between Sophie and Mohr could be seen as one of the most interesting parts of the play.

Charlie Parham as director made the very good decision of casting Edward Eustace (as Roland Freisler) in another one of his plays. Eustace has shown his acting genius in many previous pieces, such as Waiting for Godot, in which he also worked with Parham. In Sophie School, his acting was truly the highlight of the play, and even if everything had failed, Eustace surely would have brought the pieces back together.

Thankfully though, everything did not fail. Though there were a few blank moments, the fact that there was a large company helped create the atmosphere of fear and tension that Parham was probably aiming for. Sophie Scholl in the end is a strong play with a strong story - a combination that is definitely worth seeing.

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