Directed by Jane Packman
Pros: A most fascinating subject matter presented by a charming performer.
Cons: Considering I didn’t know much about this fascinating subject, I would have liked a bit more information than what this show provides.
Our Verdict: In terms of interesting women in history, you can’t get much better than this – a true story about a beautiful Nazi supporter who murders her own children in Hitler’s bunker.
It is interesting that the run of this show coincides both with International Women’s Day and, of course, Mother’s Day. After all, both holidays are celebrations and the latter is traditionally a time of cards, flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This performance may not be an obvious choice for Mother’s Day entertainment but if any show is going to make you fully appreciate your Mum for neither killing you as a toddler nor forcing you to star in Nazi propaganda films, then it’s certainly going to be this one.
Maybe I’m a little naïve here but I used to think that nobody apart from active members of the Nazi party had any idea what was really going on during the Holocaust. Perhaps it was my way of blocking out the possibility that anyone other than a madman would go along with such horror. As I watched this show, I felt a growing sense of unease as I watched Nazi-made films which demonstrated just how manipulative the propaganda was. We saw films with demonstrations of mass sterilization with clips of a rich woman and her children considered to be examples of the ideal Aryan race. This was Magda Goebbels and the children she would later kill in a bunker as the Russian army closed in on Berlin
Sara Kewly does a very interesting thing. Instead of bombarding us with facts, she gently welcomes us into Magda’s world. We are given a cup of hot cocoa on the way in, which is what the children drank before they died and an almond to place between our teeth, symbolising the cyanide tablets they were forced to take. Sara asks us to think about the worst thing we’ve ever done and how we felt when we were doing it. The answer I think most people would provide is that they genuinely thought they were doing the right thing or they really believed the hamster could fly as they chucked it from the upstairs window or whatever it happened to be. A letter left to her son who was still at war at the time suggests that Magda felt very certain that she was doing the best for her children.
Although this show is fascinating in many ways, I would have liked a bit more solid information on Magda. Thanks to my internet stalking after the performance, I saw that Magda was a walking contradiction and a far more complex character than I could ever have imagined. Having said that, I think it was a wise decision not to completely bombard the audience with facts. Instead, we are urged to understand her predicament and to at least attempt to meet her half way. At one point, we are invited to embody either Magda or the person who shot her (something you just don’t get on Wikipedia) which certainly helped me really think about the situation. Although Sara Kewly has gone for human response above detail, just a little more background would have given this show a lot more edge.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable piece presented by a charming and talented performer who has a lot of knowledge and a deep empathy for women who commit crime. Although some parts felt hollow, the show is still interesting and effective for the most part and it is certainly worth a look.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!
I’m Just Like Magda Goebbels has now completed its run at the Camden People’s Theatre. For more information, visit the Wonder Arts Company website at http://www.wonderwonder.co.uk/.