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Theatre REVIEW: National Theatre Live: Good - ★★★★

NT Live Encore Screening


by C.P. Taylor

directed by Dominic Cooke

David Tennant (Doctor Who) makes a much-anticipated return to the West End in a blistering reimagining of one of Britain’s most powerful, political plays.

As the world faces its Second World War, John Halder, a good, intelligent German professor, finds himself pulled into a movement with unthinkable consequences.

Olivier Award-winner Dominic Cooke (Follies) directs C.P. Taylor’s timely tale, with a cast that also features Elliot Levey (Coriolanus) and Sharon Small (The Bay). Filmed live at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London.



Festival Theatre, Sunday 28th May


Niall - ★★★★ "National Theatre Live is a brilliant way for those outside of London to access and engage in the arts,and the current offering of C. P. Taylor’s Good starring David Tennant is no exception.

Written in the early 1980s and set in pre-World War 2 Germany, Good follows the story of Professor John Halder (Tennant) and his change from a sceptic of the newly elected Nazi regime to a high-ranking SS officer, and his part played in the Holocaust. The set design for the play on the whole isbare – appearing to be uncovered concrete – probably to enhance the play’s non-linear structure and rapidly changing location. A single step at seat height creates seated areas and a headboard well to enhance the actor’s movements and storytelling. The set sits into the corner of a room for most of the show until the end when it opens up to reveal the full stage in its traditional layout.

In contrast to the set design, Good utilizes an elaborate soundscape throughout the play. This, along with the very limited use of props and set dressings, allows the viewer to be transported to different locations swiftly and without the need for transition music or blackout. This further enhanced the direction of the actors who were able to show more emotion to the audience, due to them not having to think about prop placement.

The acting from Tennant and his co-stars – Elliot Levey and Sharon Small – was superb. Levey and Small were fantastic at the various roles they played throughout, with effortless transitions to different characters, sometimes within a conversation. Levey’s characterization of Halder’s Jewish friend, Maurice, was a very realistic portrayal of the fears of a Jewish man living under the Nazi Regime.

David Tennant’s portrayal of John Halder was as superb as you’d expect. His subtle, nuanced performance is polar opposite to his role as the bonkers Doctor in Doctor Who, and expertly shows his versatility and presence when on the stage. When the stage opens towards the end of the play revealing a Jewish band imprisoned at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, you can see the penny dropping within him of the reality of the atrocities that the Nazi regime were committing.

The only negative found from the play comes from the show’s structure. While the storytelling was moving and human in its telling, there were times where, as a viewer, you could feel lost with what was going on due to the rapid jumping from one conversation with a character to one completely different. While Dominic Cooke’s direction of the play handled the changes very well, there were a few moments in which the piece felt as if it was teetering on the edge of style over substance."

Have you seen it?...


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