Games by Henry Naylor 5***** - One4Review
one4review | On 10, Aug 2018
A new play by Henry Naylor, based on the true story of the treatment of Jewish athletes in the build up to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Avital Lvova and Tessie Orange-Turner brilliantly bring to life the real-life characters Helene Meyer and Gretel Bergmann in an absorbing two-hander at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. The story begins in the early 1930s with Meyer, a Jewish role model, participating in the preceding 1932 Los Angelis Olympics where she represented Germany in fencing. The passionate dialogue perfectly dramatises the nightmare of the Nazi regime assuming power in 1933 and beginning to discriminate against Jewish athletes. Soon all Jews were banned from all German sports facilities and associations, deprived of any competition. On the eve of the 1936 games, only two Jewish athletes were selected for the German team, ironically to help prevent a US boycott and to save Hilter’s beloved Olympics. As we watch, we inevitably question the extent of modern day racism, especially when Bergmann quotes Hitler’s aim to “make Germany great again”. Ultimately the only half-Jewish Meyer never fully identified as Jewish, believing herself to be a sportsperson first and foremost. Bergmann, however, was determined to shatter Hitler’s racial theories through her athletic prowess. She certainly had the last laugh, surviving the Third Reich, which was supposed to last for 1,000 years, by over 7 decades, only dying in 2017 at the age of 103.
Reviewed By Howard
Gilded Balloon Teviot – Dining Room
Until 27th August (not 15th)