The Cradle tells the story of the trial of the White Rose, a group of student activists who were condemned to death for distributing political pamphlets in Nazi Germany. The script was written by the director, David Betz-Heinemann, specifically for the production and, in parts, the play directly enacts passages from the transcript of the real interrogations.
The play is staged in a very inventive manner, making full use of the New Theatre’s intimate interior to confront the audience with the potency of the symbols and themes that it presents. A particularly effective technique is the live musical accompaniment to the performance, which subtly adds to the suspense and emotion of the piece without imposing itself upon the cast.
The central performances illustrate a promising degree of ability that really shines out from the production, giving depth and consideration to what could be caricatures. However, the play faces the almost unavoidable problem that it is slightly tedious due to the sheer inevitability of its conclusion, and whilst this is put off by the exercise of imagination in the production, the premise behind the piece is somewhat opaque, considering the needlessness of further debating the merits of totalitarian fascism.