Gabriel: a tense play set in the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands in 1943

Play: Gabriel by Moira Buffini, touring until 20 May

Set in 1943 on Nazi-occupied Guernsey, this play was originally at Soho Theatre in 1997. The Nazis have ousted Jeanne Becquet’s family from their home. The housekeeper dabbles in the black market to make ends meet; Jeanne has to ingratiate herself with the local general to ensure survival. He uncovers the big family secret at the same time as the women are harbouring a mysterious, amnesiac stranger in the attic: Gabriel throws up several moral dilemmas. Buffini’s concise style achieves ongoing tension, with twists and turns along the way. The smooth direction fully exploits the drama, creating a really exciting piece of storytelling, complemented by the performance of the atmospheric original score by Maria Haik Escudero. Carla Goodman’s set seems to float the house above the stage against a brooding seascape, echoing the island’s and characters’ isolation.

Belinda Lang is on top form as the resourceful matriarch, forced to think on her feet while enduring the oily advances of Paul McGann’s Von Pfunz. He expertly shifts from Rhineland buffoon to malevolent Nazi. This play hangs on the survival instincts of four very different women: this is an edge of your seat production.

(With acknowledgement to The Stage for the review above).

11 – 15 April, Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

01323 412000,

18 – 22 April Theatre Clwyd

01352 701 521,

24 – 29 April, Theatre Royal, Windsor

01753 863 444,

8 -13 May, Greenwich Theatre

020 8858 4447,

15 – 20 May, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

01483 440000,

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