Imagine if everything you loved was suddenly taken away from you. Your family, your home, even your freedom. What lengths would you go to protect yourself and the people you cared about?
It’s 1940 and the Nazis have taken over the Channel Islands. Food is rationed, curfews are set and the residents are forced to share their homes with soldiers. Some islanders tried to escape, others fought back and others kept their heads down and got on with it.
Lotty (Olivia Hallinan) is a determined, headstrong girl who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. When her father is killed and her home taken over by a Nazi General (Mark Letheren) she is forced to choose how she lives her life to protect those she loves.
Giuliano Crispini grew up in Guernsey, aware of the island’s history, but not knowing much about it. In Lotty’s War, his first published play, he looks at humanity and how we deal with circumstances that are out of our control.
Much like David Hare, Crispini creates pathos and atmosphere in his decision to have very few characters who share uncomfortable dialogue that makes the audience feel intrusive and awkward. Director Bruce Guthrie intensifies this with his decisions as the cast’s positioning adds to the awkwardness of the characters.
Hallinan and Letheren have wonderful chemistry which we see develop as their relationship changes and we feel real empathy with both characters. Chemistry between Hallin and Adam Gillen (Ben) is less believable; it’s clear they have a strong friendship, but they do not seem romantically attached, which could be impartiality on Lotty’s part.
The tension in the scene where we see Lotty once again reconsider Rolf is heart stopping and dramatic, whilst the final scene is shocking and completely unexpected. These twists and turns make Lotty’s War a gripping piece of theatre that keeps the audience on their toes throughout.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes