6-28 October 2017
When I got asked to review this one, I wasn’t sure what to expect at all… but what a gem of a play it turned out to be! It was my first visit to the Lyceum, so it was a night full of surprises. The theatre itself is beautiful, from the reception through to the bar, and then on into the very impressive auditorium itself. As we took our seats I admired the set immensely, while tattered drapes and ladders hang around the room added touches of authenticity to the illusion as we were all transported back to Germany and the end of WW2. I don’t think I have ever felt such anticipation for a performance in the air as we waited for a show to start.
The plot was quickly established; basically, we were in a theatre just after the conclusion of the war, with the British just turning up to help repatriate multiple nationalities of Europe that had been press-ganged by the Nazis into servicing the Reich. I must admit that I had prior ignorance as to the conflict between neighboring countries and different religious beliefs throughout Europe, but I was quickly educated in the select matter of everybody having something they didn’t like about everybody else, and they all had no desire whatsoever to be in the same theatre together, never mind the same truck that the British officer was hoping to get everyone in and on their way! The officer was played by Nebli Basani whose performance was sheer quality as he and his trusty sergeant (Deka Walmsley) went about conducting the staging-post proceedings in a melting-pot of DP’s (Displaced Person’s) as the Sgt rightly informed us all. I really enjoyed the Sgt’s character and thought that he stole the show a little in the first act; he had the right mix of humour and no messing that a genuine Sgt in the war would likely have needed to be able to survive with his humanity and sanity intact!
There was a sweet-paced genuineness, and the first interval was upon us in what seemed like only a few minutes… which had been, in fact, a full hour. A great sign that one is enjoying oneself. The 2nd half saw a lot more of the cast coming to the forefront of the story, and I quickly felt a connection with a few of them who gave stellar performances! The French Resistance girl played by Kaisa Hammarlund was another one of my favourites; she had a decent sized part and I was genuinely upset by her trials & tribulations. These were among some scattered, soul-touching moments that made me reflect upon the war and the terrible suffering our embattled predecessors had to endure.
Cockpit simply blew me away and I was very glad I had been asked to review. It was most thought-provoking, and I will remember all those excellent performances and the drama from which they shone for a very long time. I was genuinely moved! In today’s world of ever-increasing differences and toxic religious divides, the play remains extremely relevant, it made me think of just how similar we all are. Everyone has the same basic needs and desires, trying to please everyone in this mixed up world of ours,though just like the play would be very difficult indeed! However, just because something is difficult to achieve that should not stop us from trying! Go and see tis play where & while you can & you won’t be disappointed. You don’t need a great historical knowledge or political insight to enjoy Cockpit; the acting was first class, the story was very believable and the stagecraft painted an extremely believable setting. Remarkable theatre!
Reviewer : Mark Parker