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November 28, 2009 | by  | in Arts Theatre | [ssba]

Wolf’s Lair


Traudl Junge was unremarkable. She just wanted to be a ballerina but she ended up being Hitler’s secretary for the last three years of the second world war. Wolf’s Lair is the story of her life, her telling of it and the multiple truths that changing time and changing context put upon them.

Sophie Roberts’ solo performance is the very definition of a tour-de-force. A magnetic, pitch perfect rendition of a living breathing human being. Roberts is possessed of such profound focus and control that such simple and Wolf's Lairunderstated acts as the switching of reels on a tape player become deeply interesting and meaningful actions in and of themselves. She flicks between the different periods of Junge’s life with a precision and ease that belies a brilliant and natural talent.

This is not our first visit to the Wolf’s Lair. The show originated with a season at BATS during the Fringe of this year before being reworked into a second incarnation that showed in Auckland in the middle of the year. This third step in the evolution of Wolf’s Lair is surely not its last. This process of revision and reworking has really benefited the work. All its major issues have been smoothed out or refined and whole new delicate series of new layers of meaning have been introduced into the work.

It has been tightened and restructured. With a newly heightened focus on the reflexivity of Junge’s story, of the layering and distortions that occur when a story is retold and retold. Junge listens to herself and her story on audio tape as shades of Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape pass welcomingly over the work. Taking place now entirely within a small island of tape with Roberts restricted to a single chair for a large chunk of the running time, there is a new directness and clarity to the work.

Willem Wassenaar’s direction shows the operatic flair, scale and fundamental understanding of the machinations and joys of the theatrical that is to be expected to emanate forth from his irrationally talented brain. There is still a slight issue with a climatic montage that does not seem to quite click together, relying a little too much on a cinematic grammer than a theatrical one. But apart from that one slight moment of shake, which we can be sure Wolf's Lairwill smooth as the work progresses, this work is as much an achievement for Wassenaar as a director as it is for Roberts as a performer. It is a delightful statement of vision and control. Nathan McKendry’s lighting is subtle and beautiful, drawing attention to action and emotion in a tender, controlled and unselfaware way. Thomas Press’ soundtrack of hammering typewriter keys is a perfect compliment to the rest of the work.

Wolf’s Lair is a work of profound weight and space. A truly spellbinding fifty minutes. It is a giving experience, a rewarding experience. That the somewhat more conservative Circa – that is not a judgement on them, their work or their practice, they know their audience and give them what they want and there is nothing wrong with that – have programmed is a sight towards the great potential, some of it clearly already achieved, of the up coming Wellington theatre scene.

If you like stories, you will like this play. If you like the theatre, you will like this play. If you like chocolate, you will like this play. If you like your favourite colour, you will like this play.

You have to see it.

Wolf’s Lair
Devised by Sophie Roberts and Willem Wassenaar
Directed by Willem Wassenaar
With Sophie Roberts

At Circa Two, 27 Nov – 12 Dec 2009
Book at (04) 801 7992 or


About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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