One of my favourite books last year was Timur Vermes’ Look Who’s Back, a dark comical satire that plucked a lot of strings for its subject matter, bringing back Hitler and giving him a TV show.
And what TV show employs just as much controversy? Big Brother of course. Smash the two together and you have Big Brother Blitzkrieg, a play with slightly less of an effect than Look Who’s Back had.
We all know the nuances of Big Brother and reality TV in general, so you go into the play on some level already knowing what to expect. So, for me, it was more about how the role of Hitler (Stephen Chance) played into this.
It’s very apparent from an early point that Hitler has entered by unknown means and, at his point of entry, hasn’t come to power yet. This allows for greater freedom to interact with the characters, who help shape his views through their tasks and conversations. Everything is covered, from the role of women to tactics, politics and education.What was interesting was witnessing how the parallels ran between the two perspectives, that of Hitler against those of the housemates, and how progressively he entwined them under his influence. The housemates all played to different stereotypes: the free spirit, the middleclass, the uptight one, all personalities that we normally expect from housemates which result in the usual dialogues and arguments. Jenny John stood out here for me, as the middleclass Lucy, who acted like the Katie Hopkins of the CBB house. I like that type of character, so I was drawn to her more than any of the others.
Hitler is very specifically presented in history, therefore something like this is given more dramatic liberty to write his character and include moments that are more personal and humorous, such as the initial rejection from Art School. As such, Stephen Chance’s Hitler has both funny and dark moments, meaning you almost fall into liking his character (if such a thing can be said) until well…you know…he becomes the Hitler we all know.
There were moments of brilliance in the diary room where Hew Rous Eyre & Max Elton’s script shone bright; I would have loved to have seen more of this. It’s where the magic of the play came into force and you could see the more personal character traits and opinions coming to the forefront.
This play wasn’t exactly the game changer I was hoping for, but if you’re a fan of Big Brother and fancy a comical shift on the genre then check it out.
Big Brother Blitzkrieg is on at the Kings Head Theatre until January 30, 2016.