WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2
WHEN?: Saturday 11 September, opens 18 September, runs to 30 October 2021
RUNTIME: 90 minutes (no interval)
Playwright Bess Wohl penned this play last summer during the pandemic while staying outside New York as Donald Trump’s presidential re-election campaign kicked into gear.
- Read on for reasons including how Olivier Award-winning Ferran’s indoctrination is centre stage here
Wohl was intrigued by the real-life story of the former Camp Siegfried she stayed near and uses it as the basis for this tale of 2 American teenagers of German descent who meet at a summer camp in 1938 at which they are taught Nazi ideals, live on roads named after German leaders and are encouraged to ‘socialise’ to create pure German offspring.
There is laughter during the 1st half of this 2-hander as we meet 17-year-old Him played by Luke Thallon (The Inheritance, Young Vic, Present Laughter, Old Vic) who is 1 of this country’s finest young actors and once again doesn’t disappoint here.
His character calls Ferran’s awkward 16-year-old Her ‘dummy’ far too much for our liking yet seems desperate to impress her with physical displays of his superiority over her timidity.
As the pair spend time on the chores needed to maintain the camp so it can remain hidden from those without German ancestry they get to know each other better and an unlikely backstory emerges from Her’s past which threatens to derail their increasingly emotional relationship.
Ferran’s Her becomes jealous as Thallon’s Him goes into the woods with another girl but is humiliated by the encounter. They reconcile and we follow their journey as their relationship becomes physical after He reveals a dark secret to Her.
Ferran (A Christmas Carol, Bridge Theatre) won an Olivier for Summer and Smoke which transferred into the West End after we saw it at the Almeida. She’s such a reliably outstanding actress that we would happily see her in anything she is in.
We think it is because she can display a dazzling acting maturity way beyond her actual years which means she brings an honesty and openness to all her roles and she does so here as she delivers a speech on a raised plinth to an audience she believes contains Hitler displaying all she has learned during this summer.
Camp Siegfried is 1 of the most outstanding pieces of new writing we’ve seen this year and it’s absolutely thrilling to see it brought to life by such a talented young acting pairing.