Review: Hannah and Martin

By John Nathan, June 6, 2008

The Courtyard Theatre, London N1

One of the fainter blips on the fringe radar is host to a terrific production of a remarkably confident debut by American writer Kate Fodor.

Central to her biographical work is the affair between two of Germany’s great 20th-century thinkers. One is Martin Heidegger, the philosopher who flourished under the Nazis, giving the barbarians a veneer of intellectual credibility. The other is Hannah Arendt, his Jewish student who would later carve her own formidable reputation.

The setting is Nuremberg, 1946 where Arendt, there to report on the war crimes trials, struggles to come to terms with the choices made by the mentor she loved. It may sound like an evening of dour theatre, but Fodor handles her weighty themes — none heavier than Arendt’s guilt by association — with a light touch.

Under Pat Garret’s assured direction it is a quality mirrored by Vivienne Rowdon’s superb performance which transmits Arendt’s curiosity and fierce intelligence. She gets fine support by a quality cast, particularly Greg Patmore’s restrained Heidegger. But the star is Fodor’s play which persuasively suggests that Arendt was as blind to Heidegger’s guilt as Heidegger was to that of the Nazis. (Tel: 0870 163 0717)

Last updated: 5:10pm, June 5 2008