20 June 2017

Incident At Vichy at King's Head Theatre


I fancied Incident At Vichy because it is by Arthur Miller and I was also keen to go to King's Head Theatre which I had somehow not managed to do previously, despite working within easy walking distance for a while.

I was feeling generous and pushed the boat out a little and went for a Premium seat, C8; this cost £25 which is heading towards pricey for a pub theatre. I would not have minded that if the premium seat was good but the first few rows were at the same height so I has two rows of people in front of me. None of them was ridiculously tall or wide but my view was impacted. The view I had was something like the picture above but with some heads in the way.

The evening had not started that well either. The unusual 7pm start meant something of a mad dash from Teddington which left no time for food beforehand. The pub foresaw this and did not provide any anyway. They did provide some reasonable though and while it took a little queueing to get some the first pint went down in under five minutes and I took a second in with me.

Incident At Vichy was a procession of men waiting to be called in for nationality checks by the Nazis. These checks apparently consisted of examining papers and foreskins and took place in a consulting room off to the right. This was in the early 1940s when the Vichy Regime was the nominal government of France while the Nazis occupied the north of the country.

As the men waited they talked. Some were sure that everything would be fine, others were worried about their papers and others shared stories of what they had heard happened to those who failed the tests. In one, of many telling exchanges one man said that it did not make economic sense for the Nazis to kill so many people when they needed workers and another commented that was exactly the sort of remark that a Jew would be expected to make.

As with other war plays I had seen recently the othering of Jews, Gypsies and gays etc. had uncomfortable resonances with current times where blame for woes was laid at the doors of Muslims, Remoaners and Fake News Media. We seem determined not to learn those lessons.

Incident At Vichy was tense but it was also illuminating and stimulating thanks largely to the simplicity of the production that let the characters do all the work and to the strong cast that made all of those characters realistic and interesting. 

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