Review Round Up: A German Life, Bridge Theatre

Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Jonathan Kent’s production starring Maggie Smith.

(c)Helen Maybanks

The Telegraph: ***** “A compelling history lesson. An acting master-class like no other. Dame Maggie Smith is back on the London stage for the first time in 12 years and – at the age of 84 – commands attention for more than 90 minutes without interruption by virtue of her undiminished expressive powers and the unflagging importance of the tale she has to relay – that of one of Goebbels’ secretaries, Brunhilde Pomsel (1911 – 2017), an ordinary woman who got a close-up view of the Nazi operation and yet had a strange and saving myopia when it came to grasping the full monstrosity of the regime.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “Smith holds us every step of the way, in her pauses, her little hesitations, and silences as much as in her speech. She has a way of rubbing her hands over her face that says as much as any words.”

Time Out: **** “It is a totally brilliant performance, just don’t expect fireworks. Smith’s Pomsel – an altogether less imposing personality than Smith herself – is a woman who seems to constantly be wrestling with something: a struggle to remember? Guilt? Guilt at her lack of guilt? Horror at what previously uninterrogated memories of the Third Reich really signified? Often she stumbles over words or slightly loses her thread: maybe some of this is Smith stalling for time slightly, or perhaps each hesitation or repetition is immaculately scripted. Either way the effect of the same – low key magic, and a remarkable performance.”

iNews: ***** “Smith mesmerizes the audience, not with her familiar waspish putdowns, but with something much more insidious and sinister: complete ordinariness. She is compelling because of her calm normality, an old woman having trouble with her memory.”

The Guardian: **** “while watching Jonathan Kent’s production and Smith’s superb performance, we surrender to the power of the moment and the evocation of a time when lies became truth.”

The Times: ***** “This quiet tour de force from Maggie Smith is simply unforgettable — get a ticket if you can.”

Evening Standard: **** “Maggie Smith expertly portrays the character’s hesitations and evasions. She brandishes throughout a pair of glasses that she never puts on. They’re a nagging image of imperfect focus — one of many finely observed touches in a performance that’s expressive but restrained and affords an intimate view of the dangers of political complacency.”

London ***** “Smith’s own vocal inflections and mannerisms – her way of repeating certain words in a sentence, her natural pauses and conversational stumbles – perfectly match the character she is playing.”

The Metro: **** ” In this carefully unsensational show, Smith powerfully makes the culpability of Pomsel’s ignorance — the justification of ordinary people who choose not to look — our guilt, too.”

A German Life continues to play at the Bridge Theatre until the 11th May.

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