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Mengele review at Assembly George Square Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘catastrophically ill-conceived’

Stefanie Rossi and Tim Marriott in Mengele

Plays should be written about the Holocaust. But not by Philip Wharam and Tim Marriott. It’s a terrible topic that demands sensitivity and subtlety – both of which are missing from Mengele, Wharam and Marriott’s two-hander exploring the life of the Nazi doctor who infamously experimented on the inmates of Auschwitz, then escaped to Argentina.

Marriott plays Josef Mengele, who wakes up on the shores of a South American beach – he’s just drowned, in fact – to face his final judgement. An inscrutable woman questions him about his life, his opinions, and his regrets. It’s a groan-inducing premise from the off, and it only gets worse as Mengele starts venting anti-Semitic slurs and fascist philosophies.

Marriott is a decent enough actor, as is Stefanie Rossi, who plays his ethereal interrogator, but the writing is unsophisticated and the production cringeworthily basic.

The real problem, though, is that Mengele doesn’t do anywhere near enough to justify itself. It’s trying to bluntly remind us where far-right rhetoric can lead, but it simply piggybacks on the horror of the Holocaust for its impact – a tactic that is both lazy and disrespectful in equal measure. It comes from a good place, but it really isn’t good at all.

Verdict
Catastrophically ill-conceived two-hander about the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele

Production

Production
Mengele
Venue
Assembly George Square Theatre
City
Edinburgh
Starts
August 9, 2018
Ends
August 27, 2018
Authors
Philip Wharam, Tim Marriott
Director
Tim Marriott
Technical
Rachel Pryce
Cast includes
Tim Marriott, Stefanie Rossi
Producer
Smokescreen Productions
Running time
1hr