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Fringe review: Mengele

Adelaide Fringe

The notorious Nazi doctor from Auschwitz who used Jewish prisoners for all manner of despicable experiments is questioned about his past after nearly drowning on a beach in Brazil in the sobering Fringe play Mengele. ★★★★

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Tim Marriott gives a tremendous performance as Mengele: he captures a man who defends his actions without remorse to the end, while also portraying a horrific human being with some tenderness.

Stefanie Rossi provides a convincing counterpoint as Azra’il, the one who rescues him: she is a mysterious figure who knows about Mengele and questions him about his past.

Occasional footage of Auschwitz reminds of the terrors of that camp and that Mengele was instrumental in the torture and extermination of thousands of prisoners.

The scenario and text is engaging and almost Beckettian in its dialectical debate between the two about Mengele’s life and whether he has any regrets.

For most of the play, Mengele is amused, intrigued and annoyed by his saviour’s questioning, but he fiercely resists and defends himself while living in a delusion that his behaviour was a good thing for humanity.

The dialogue is fascinating from the beginning and the two actors maintain the tension throughout. Rossi’s character exerts a curious control over Mengele and so in the climactic ending there was no need to physically depict this as if she were casting a spell.

Regardless, Mengele is very good theatre, a sobering reminder of the horrors of concentration camps and of the dangers of individuals who embrace philosophies that believe in eradicating people who are marginalised, of different colour or perceived as inferior.

Smokescreen Productions is presenting Mengele at the Bakehouse Theatre until March 17. Read more InDaily Fringe reviews and stories here.

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