Your Image Alt Text

Leave Hitler to Me, Lad

The Arts Theatre, London

Leave Hitler to Me, Lad tells the untold story of a generation of children in the aftermath of the Second World War. It recalls the evacuation program issued by the British government, ‘Evacuate Forthwith’ and ‘Operation Pied Piper,’ that planned to move 3.5 million children in three days, many of whom did not know where they were going nor if they would ever see their families again.

The play is set in a children’s home in Essex where Brian, Gladys and George are sent to avoid the aerial bombings by Nazi Germany. They spend their time entertaining one another, either playing musical instruments or cowboy and Indians, until one day, they are told they must leave to join their surrogate families. They are torn away from each other, not knowing whether they see each other again, ever. These scenes are juxtaposed with songs that are supposed to capture the climate as well as the sentiments of the characters as they embark on their new journey.

The set is covered in carpet and a cyclorama of a war propaganda poster, which gives an authentic feel to the play. The desks create a school environment and the orange – yellow lighting adds a vintage atmosphere to the setting. The matching costumes are very simple and help the audience distinguish between the two generations on stage.

The play overall lacked emotional depth, especially in some of the crucial monologues that failed to even flow naturally. It felt flat from the beginning and struggled to maintain sufficient energy to keep the performance going. The singing was out of tune and painful to sit through, at times even cringe worthy. The audience seemed to be itching to escape but due to the dimensions of the room, were forced to sit through this school performance that should have been a moving West End play.

  • Musical
  • Written and Directed by Haley Cox
  • Music by Ben Pringle
  • Cast: Louis Labovitch, James Mountain, Rosie Fox, Rachel O’Hare, George Grattage, Amy Leek, Sam Davies
  • The Arts Theatre, London
  • Until 8 October 2015 (then on tour)
  • Review by Nicole Kent
  • 6 October 2015

8 Responses

  1. Mike O'Neal

    This doesn’t even sound like the same production I saw. I purchased on a whim and it is the best piece of theatre I’ve seen in a long time. I am a regular theatre goer. I think that I am a good judge of the opinion of people around me and there was a very good feeling in the audience. How anyone can fail to be moved by Leave Hitler to Me Lad is beyond me.

  2. Vicky

    I saw this on Sunday. What a nonsensical, badly written and frankly inaccurate review. Great to see a new musical in town that isn’t an adaptation or a mish-mash of pop songs. Credit where credit is due.

  3. Ian F

    Whatever the critics opinion it seems a little low to comment on the audience a little below the belt. We are glad we looked at all the articles about this show and not just this one it is magical.

  4. Cathie

    I saw this lovely play and enjoyed every minute of it.
    Cannot understand where this inaccurate review has come from.
    The cast and music were brilliant.

  5. Dan Harrison

    Just returned from this show after it being my best yplan ticket so far. Had to look it up because it hit me so hard, am reading around the forgotten children. Glad to see comments rubbishing this review.

  6. Elena

    You can’t fail to see the potential for a larger version of this production. The story is gripping and performances impressive, especially musically. I’m really not sure what this reviewer was listening to. Any small wobbles from the children just made it more authentic for me, it makes a refreshing change from the usual irritating stage school kids in the West End.

  7. John Murray

    As a child of the war from a violent family I found this to be the most moving experience. A small minded review.

  8. Tim

    Well, somebody completely missed the point of this didn’t they? Oh dear.


Continue the Discussion...