‘Judgement at Nuremberg’

Judgement at Nuremberg‘ was a play put on by the ‘Argosy Players‘ at the ‘Compass Theatre‘, Ickenham, from 6th-9th October, 2010. It was directed by Steve Brown.

The play concerns the trial of four German Judges by three American Judges in Occupied Germany in 1948.

The play began with a short video of the original Nuremberg trials, over which a speech gave an account of the trials and the sentences. The German Judges are accused of Nazi ‘Sterilization’ and ‘Cleansing’ Policies and ‘War Crimes’. They are Werner LammpeFrederick HoffstetterEmil Hahn and Dr Ernst Janning. All but one of the Judges plead ‘Not Guilty’ as Dr Ernst Janning declares that he does not recognise the power of this court. The task of presiding over this trial falls to Judge Dan Haywood and the two Judges who preside with him, Judge Ken Norris and Judge Curtis IvesColonel Tad Parker, the prosecuter, makes an opening statement that depicts the defendants as having been willing, accomplices in Nazi atrocities. He is matched by Defense Attorney, Oscar Rolfe, who counters each argument and objection.

It is during an argument between Colonel Tad Parker and Oscar Rolfe that Dr Ernst Janning decides that he can’t remain silent and, while still under oath, makes an emotional and heartfelt speech that highlights that the defendants had to make a choice between allegiance to their country and allegiance to their own sense of right and wrong. Even when they realised that Hitler was wrong they still did nothing. This speech damns the defendants. During the closing arguments, Colonel Tad Parker shows some footage from the Liberation of one concentration camp. The shot of bulldozers pushing hundreds of bodies in to pits will stay with me for a while, I think. After the closing arguments, Judge Dan Haywood passes his Judgement and sentences all four to Life imprisonment.

The entire play left me thinking. Thinking about who was really to blame:

Adolf Hitler. Winston Churchill. The Americans. The Vatican. Or was everyone to blame in there own way?!

Stand-out performances for me were, in no particular order:

Glenn Brentnall as Judge Dan Haywood.

Angus Patrick as Colonel Tad Parker.

Andi Tucker as Oscar Rolfe.

Les Broude as Dr Karl Wickert.

Helen Main as Frau Margarete Bertholt.

Tom Hartwell as Rudolph Peterson.

Steve Brown as Dr Ernst Janning.

Stand-out scenes for me were:

The cross examination of Rudolph Peterson by Oscar Rolfe.

Tom Hartwell really pulled off an amazing bit of acting as the man ‘Sterilized’ on the orders of the accused because his mother was ‘feeble-minded.’

The argument between Parker and Rolfe.

This scene was so highly charged that I had the feeling that the two actors, Angus Patrick and Andi Tucker, really meant and believed in what they were saying.

Dr Ernst Janning’s speech.

The scene where Dr Ernst Janning finally gives in and makes his impassioned speech, whilst under oath, was superbly and emotionally delivered. The conviction with which Steve Brown delivered his lines held the entire audience.

I came away from this play forgetting that I had just watched an ‘amateur’ production.

Of the cast I can only say,

‘You were exceptional.’

As for the set and back stage crew,

‘Keep up the good work.’

And to the Director, Steve Brown, I say,

‘For a directorial début, this was incredible. I can’t wait to see your next piece of work.’

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