Friday, 13 July, 2012

It is an extraordinary thing to watch a group of young people attempt to recreate the horrors of the Holocaust on a makeshift stage and hold the audience spellbound; to represent the violence and the absence of humanity with no other prop than a chair and a scratchy recording of Adolf Hitler urging his fanatical supporters to show no mercy. The Fuhrer Will Now Speak, a play written and directed by Josh Whatsize, also sets out to remind us that genocide is taking place now; that it is vital to understand that although society made a commitment to never allow the Holocaust to be repeated, millions have been brutalised and killed by their own people in the years since the Second World War.

It is an ambitious work, particularly given the restrictions under which is staged, limited by time to less than 30 minutes and performed by a cast of teenagers. Josh himself is just 18. And yet it succeeds, because it is told simply and with conviction. The words spoken by the young actors are the words of Holocaust survivors, taken from interviews and books, and give the performers and the audience an insight into the lives of those who lived through it.

The piece was created for a single performance by the Nuffield Youth Theatre Company in Southampton, and was watched by no more than 50 or 60 people in a small studio off the main theatre. It deserves to live on, and to be performed before the largest audiences. It should be embraced by schools and youth groups to inspire a new generation.

Martin Barrow
The Times