Wolf Heidecker Arts Management

Subtitle


Geli -Hitler's Niece  by Enzo Condello


Review by Richard Wolstencroft: 


A great new play has opened in Melbourne Australia that deals with the touchy issue of Adolf Hitler's relationship with his niece Geli. Anyone who has studied the National Socialist period knows the story uel1. ln the late zo's Hitler develops a love interest for his half niece, Geli Raubal. At first, it's all fun and games, but Hitler becomes jealous after Geli has an affair with his chauffeur Emil and becomes overly protective and manipulative. Eventually keeping her as a virtual prisoner in the Berghof, until she commits suicide at the young age of 23. Hitler goes in to a deep depression afterwards, and holidays by the Tegernsee and does not attend the funeral. A few days later, he visits her grave in grief - but then soon after loses his depression and refocuses his attention on Politics, Germany and begins in earnest his relationship with Eva Braun, yet, still keeping Geli's portrait in many of his private rooms. These are the historical facts.

In Enzo Condello's wonderfully new Shakespearian play Geli - Hitler's Niece, Geli is portrayed as an unsung heroine of modern history. Geli (played well by Kellev Kerr Young) is a girl who believes that love and love alone was and is strong enough to turn old Adolf from his more radical ideas to a more mild Populist Nationalist attitude of assimilation, and expulsion of radicals and known enemies and traitors, only, perspective. Geli envisages a more mild Hitler and sets about bringing it in to reality it seems at times with Hitler's own acquiescence. Geli is portrayed as a strong Catholic 'arc angel', with high moral values and she tries to get Hitler to see her perspective, constantly reminding him of his own Catholic background and heritage. And sometimes taking a whip to him to fun mock S&M shenanigans.

The play is set as a battle between good and evil forces - the prize of which is Hitler's sou1. The Dark Side is portrayed by no less than Heinrich Himmler {Jonathan Harris, no not Dr Smith - but a new one) in early days mode who sees Geli as a softening influence on the "Fuhrer to be" and he wants her gone. He indulges in his Machiavellian ways to try and oust Geli by creating a series of scandals with her flirting with good looking Nazi 'hanger-ons' - including going to the lengths of spiking her drinks at parties and such. This is all fascinatingly handled in the play.

Enzo Condello is the Brother of Mario Condello, one of the heavy hitters in The Carlton Crew, who got whacked during the Melbourne crime wars of late 9o's and early 2ooo. Enzo uses this and his own life experiences and at the request of his brother, before his passing, to write a play about Geli and Hitler- and this is the excellent result. Enzo Condello is a modern want to be bard, in the Shakespearean tradition, and his Geli has echoes of Othello with Himmler playing the Iago role. It's ambitious but all rather well done, in my view.

It's not without some small problems. It's perhaps 20 minutes too long at 110 minutes - without an intermission. The guy Harris playing Himmler looks more like Goebbels, a taller version and the guy playing Goebbels (Ben Byrne) looks more like a version of early days Goering. But that's not really that big a deal, and these are only minor issues, small potatoes.

The stand out performance of the play is that of Mattrhew Richard Walsh as Adolf Hitler. He gives a stunning performance as Hitler for the local indy stage. A tormented Hitler torn between love and rnoderation, and the rnore dark side vision of Himmler's Nazism to come. His great performance opens the question: if Geli had stayed by his side, would Hitler have been far less radical? An interesting idea. And only deported some Jews or assimilated many - as Geli had recommended and never resorted to the radical ideas of Himmler, and his darker entourage.

It's a timely idea and theme as Nationalism is rising on the world stage once again. Do we choose a Nationalism with Geli’s trimmings, more loving, less radical and fair and with strong Christian ethos backing it up? Or do ne descend in to a mutually destructive, full nightmare of nihilistic and evening Satanic darkness, that Himmler and his antics represent?

Geli - Hitler's Niece is a prescient and timely reflection on all this, and one's hat must be taken off to Condello, director Heidecker and lead Matthew Richard Walsh for putting this ail together, against the odds. Trade's Hall, the original venue baulked and kicked them out, as they don't like Free Speech and founded the topic unpleasant, etc., - but it's found a great home in Richmond at The Richmond Theatrette.

It's a must for local theatre goers and I hope it sees a return season interstate - or an overseas run. It has two more performances locally. Get along and catch one if you can.


Credits:

Produced by Globe Players

Written by Enzo Condello

Directed by Wolf Heidecker

Featuring Kelley Kerr Young, Matthew Richard Walsh, Caroline Ferguson, Simone Bergamin & Ben Byrne; Set & lmage-Design Sarah Yeung.

Venue: Richmond Theatrette, Upstairs, 415 Church St, Richmond

Dates: April 26 to 28 & May 1 to 5 (2018)


Review by Suzy Markovski:


“It is not so much the doer as the deed that dismays” Enzo Condello’s latest offering does not disappoint. In this play comes a masterful depiction of the story of Hitler’s half niece Geli Raubal. Most of us at some point would have heard mutterings about it but the intricacies of the story of their love affair are not general knowledge. The play is not a historical drama but is shaped around fact; the general rumoured story of the girl he was mad for. Enzo Codello is known for his modern hybrid of classical dramatic verse and contemporary poetry prose and this hybrid which is his own just works so explicitly. He uses it masterfully to tell the story of Hitler and his niece’s love affair. It is like many other love affairs, one that eventuates into jealousy and paranoia, deception and all the themes universal in the game of love. These are themes that Condello treats with such fervent devotion, they resonate so intricately that the audience is taken on the journey, a rollercoaster of highs and then mostly lows, and we sit in our chairs resonating with the pain and torment that those on the stage convey. They can find themselves wincing in their seats as the themes of heartbreak and longing strike a chord. Codello repeats themes of the seductress, the struggle of power in relationships between a man and woman, the ever present spell of a woman upon a man. His writings pack a punch in this production with the concurrent theme of love, desire and loss interspersed with commentary on themes of friendship and larger themes of politics, power, religion and philosophy. All of this presented in a kind of ‘dancing language’ We are left intrigued by the story of Geli , Hitler’s niece, and lover and astounded to have witnessed seeing this ‘human’ Hitler

Adolf Hitler or the actor who plays him undoubtedly shines. Matthew Richard Walsh is poignant and effortless. He makes ‘his Hitler’ inextricably human and flawed but still there is an underpinning notion of the evil and unforgiving monster that may be underneath. In this play we are sad for him which feels weird and unnerving because of what we know of him but in the story laid out in front of us it is because we sympathise with the deception placed upon him. The performance doesn’t wain and in between scenes his presence back on stage is anticipated as we get caught up in the sequences of the story being told and his journey in it

His niece and obsession Geli Raubal played by Kelley Kerr Young is a strong presence on the stage as well. The actor intricately displays Geli’s passion and strength. She does well as do all the others to convey for the most part unhappiness and despair.

The director Wolf Heidecker had done well with pace and transitions in that regard considering a third of the story many of its characters are in despair nevertheless we move through all of it, mostly with ease and good rhythm

The intermittent bits where Hitler’s commanders come in to discuss the situation are nicely woven in and seem like the right amount of interplay between the two worlds. Heinrich Himmler played by Jonathon Harris is a strong presence, playing treacherous with a cheeky sincerity that often humour was the reaction from the audience

A monologue given by Eva Braun, the woman who wants to be with Hitler played by Simone Bergamin conveys Condello’s poignant commentary, quite aptly on what it is to be a woman amongst men

A couple of scenes where mother and daughter or Hitler and Geli were in throws of emotion the performances seemed too frenzied and the words were a wash and not distinguishable, where there was a sense of the scene not being refined. Aside from that the whole ensemble overall gave a very noteworthy performance of Condello’s latest. They are an ensemble that has produced together a remarkable piece of theatre.

It looked just as it should. The production design and set was befitting. No over embellishment and set pieces that were perfectly descriptive, the desk, the chaise lounge, the books, down to the female figurine on the desk. Costume too, descriptively on point. The little details, exemplary. It does visually transport us to the time

Condello and Heidecker have come together to give us a production that conveys the brutal atmosphere of Germany in the 1930’s and leaves the audience wondering whether the course of history was indeed altered by this tragic love story