Guest review by Lucrezia Thumbs
“If I could do it again I would…”
Funny, witty and effective. A story about war, love, youth, confusion and choices. A youthful romance arises in the mist of WWII. Two teenagers from diverse paths of life are brought to face intricate questions as they experience love for the first time. The performance is lively, charismatic and charming, with a modernised setting making it evermore relatable and the past more tangible.
The stage is minimal, a round bed, a bowl, water tap, clothes and two karaoke booths. The story episodically shifts slightly forward and backward, but is made very clear to follow. Elodie is a French girl, Otto is a German soldier. They are fighting on opposite sides of the battle. She is 17-years-old and he is 15-years-old. He sees her bathing in a lake, she lets him watch for a while before introducing herself. She’s curious, excited by his gun and asks to touch it, and after some convincing he finally gives in.
In an abandoned house they find out about each other after overcoming first embarrassments. The writing is witty and light, but constantly acknowledging the underlining backdrop of the war which has become the norm to them. Their time together is what is most important. They are trying to figure it out and nervously break into pillow and water fights, to then awkwardly start kissing again. Meanwhile, two older counter figures Alwyne Taylor and Paul Haley accompany their telling by singing in the karaoke booths.
It seems like a beautiful coincidence they met… until their beliefs and views come into play. The war seemed to be distant, present in the destruction of bombs. Its consequences are present in the room as Elodie brings back an egg she’s rescued, which it becomes their mission to keep warm. The conflict is far away though, it has nothing to do with them, although it still affects them. Otto is constantly scared, pointing his gun at the floor with extreme terror that someone might find them. Elodie has an epileptic attack on stage; she looks happy and strong but there is something lurking behind them. Soon they discover the war is actually between them.
Otto, played by Bradley Hall, interprets the Nazi SS stereotype, with oil-slick blonde hair, a youthful face and grey uniform, boasting his adoration for Hitler. Elodie, played by Hannah Millward, does not agree with Otto’s views, but she is torn as to what to do. She knows the war is over, but Otto is still parading his leader and dreams. The performances are acted with such conviction it makes the choices and actions hard to watch. Can the power of love be so irrational? How could it? But then again, don’t we all do irrational things for the people we love?
Artistic Director Jay Miller does an incredibly brilliant job at finding the right aesthetics; a delicate beauty surrounds the stage. The set is minimal, with a stunning backdrop by Cécile Trémolières, which together with the simplistic but effective lighting and music, creates a powerful aesthetic, all elements perfectly in harmony. Spectators were very engaged around me, perhaps partially for the limited participatory moments or for the slightly bizarre non-binary elements in the representation. An extremely enjoyable evening, I highly recommend it.
This Beautiful Future is at The Yard Theatre until 20th May.