Taking Sides, Barn Theatre, Southwick: Excellent performance for Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards 2019

David Creedon as composer Wilhelm Furtwangler, Lucy Mae Knight as Emmi Straube, Luke Mepham as Lieutenant David Wills and Sam Razavi as Major Steve Arnold in Taking Sides for Wick Theatre Company
David Creedon as composer Wilhelm Furtwangler, Lucy Mae Knight as Emmi Straube, Luke Mepham as Lieutenant David Wills and Sam Razavi as Major Steve Arnold in Taking Sides for Wick Theatre Company

Wick Theatre Company in Southwick has put in a strong bid for prizes in the Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards 2019 with a brilliant production of Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood.

It is a challenging text with weighty parts, carried off to perfection by the experienced cast at the Barn Theatre in Southwick.

Dinner, Barn Theatre, Southwick: Difficult play tackled by Southwick Players for Brighton and Hove Arts Council Drama Awards 2019

The play is set in post-war Berlin, cleverly illustrated in the excellent set. Major Steve Arnold is challenging Wilhelm Furtwangler, determined to prove his loyalty to the Nazi regime.

Sam Razavi is simply excellent as the major, all American swagger, and David Creedon is electrifying as the German composer who wants only for art and music to be allowed to continue to provide comfort in these terrible times.

David’s silences and his stillness contrasts so perfectly with the loud stamping, desk slamming and swearing from the major. Both performances are excellent.

The constant battle between them held the audience in rapture throughout on Thursday night in what is actually a relatively long play.

What is clever about it is that you are left to make your own decisions. It is called Taking Sides but at no point does it take sides, it offers an understanding of both sides of the fence.

And the play is not all intense interrogation either, there is quite a bit of humour in there, brought out beautifully by the Wick.

Graham Till shows his skills in the role of Helmuth Rode, second violinist, who cannot quite seem to decide which side he is on.

It is the little details that stand out here, little noises, little grunts, little coughs, small things that just make the character.

Thursday was judging night, when adjudicator Kate Dyson, an experienced actress on stage and screen, told the cast it was a wonderful production that had left her speechless.

“It made me cry at the end and I knew what the ending was,” she said.

“I absolutely loved it. I take my hat off to you all. It was so moving.”

She found little to fault, praising not only the acting but the superb lighting, the set and the costumes, too.

The use of music is clever, opening with Beethoven and continuing with other German greats, using well timed crescendoes to add to the drama.

The play is about the language of music and the Wick uses it cleverly as part of the language of the play.