To Nicholas Hytner’s strong new Bridge Theatre on the bank of the Thames, with the great Tower Bridge magnificently rising above it, to see Christopher Hampton’s new play, A German Life. It’s a one-woman show starring the 84 year-old Maggie Smith, and what a tour de force it is. She sits alone on stage for one hour and forty five minutes and delivers an engrossing tale of a young woman growing up in Nazi Germany and finding herself at the dark heart of the regime.
The monologue is based on the true life and filmed testimony of Brunhilde Pomsel who became Joseph Goebbels personal secretary. Smith as Pomsel is a triumph, mining so much truth in her delicate performance, making Pomsel’s loss of threads in her recollection her own, so much so that you often think the octogenarian Smith has lost her way. What a joy to see this giant of British theatre and screen in such close quarters. Great job from director Jonathan Kent, who keeps things focused and doesn’t try to make too much of his own mark on proceedings.