Header Image: Robyn Nevin as Brunhilde Pomsel. Image by James Green
Australian theatrical producer John Frost and The Gordon Frost Organisation has today announced that, following its premiere at the Adelaide Festival, the 90-minute one-person play A German Life will be touring the country between May and August this year. This is a play by Christopher Hampton, directed by Neil Armfield, and features actor Robyn Nevin as Brunhilde Pomsel, an unassuming woman with good shorthand skills who, almost by chance, came to work in Joseph Goebbels’s Propaganda Ministry.
A German Life first premiered at London’s Bridge Theatre in 2019, and this tour is the first time it has been performed in Australia. The tour started off with its Australian premiere at Adelaide Festival. Over the coming months, it will enjoy 1-3 week seasons at Canberra Theatre Centre, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Arts Centre Melbourne. A Sydney season is also in the works, but no details have been shared as of writing.
Innocent or culpable? That’s the question at the heart of Christopher Hampton’s searching play, which was compiled from the testimony of the then 103-year-old for the 2014 documentary A German Life.
Pomsel struggled to make ends meet as a secretary in Berlin during the 1930s, her many employers including a Jewish insurance broker, the German Broadcasting Corporation – eventually Goebbels – before she emerged from the rubble near Hitler’s bunker waving a white pillowcase to the approaching Russian troops in April 1945.
One of the last actively involved witnesses to the rise, fall, and aftermath of the Third Reich, Brunhilde, is intelligent, likeable, honest, and credible. She doesn’t hide her youthful ignorance at the regime’s atrocities, her awe at finding herself at the heart of power, nor does she show any false remorse. Her refusal to think too hard about what was going on and focus instead on her own life, raises confronting questions for contemporary audiences. As social catastrophe creeps closer and only united action can stop it, how do we recognise that moment? How do we seize it?
For more information on how to book tickets for each venue, visit the show’s official website. With The Gordon Frost Organisation mostly known for their productions in the musical theatre space, including The Book of Mormon, Pippin, Shrek the Musical, Chicago and more – A German Life is very different from the normal GFO works.