Chamberlain has been relegated to history as one of life’s wishful thinkers. The famous photo of him proudly waving the Munich Agreement live on as a symbol of failed negotiation and blistering naivety towards Hitler’s evil. Yet,
The new perspectives within this new writing are invaluable.
Leeson in the title role was absolutely phenomenal. His performance showed painstaking accuracy and research, particularly when Chamberlain finally recorded his speech. He sensitively depicted a man battered and broken by his mistakes, which made for a powerful portrait. Though they could have appeared more frequently, Leeson still managed to include snippets of Chamberlain’s frustrated bitterness and anger. Jack, played by Freddy Goymer, was the perfect confidant to Chamberlain’s thoughts over a glass of scotch. When left alone on stage, he gave invaluable insight into the prime minister’s temperament as negotiations with Hitler fell apart.
The whole production of Chamberlain: Peace in Our Time rings with powerful melancholy and regret. Simplicity remains the key feature of this performance, although a few more changes in lighting, even subtle, might have created a smoother transition between the musical interludes and the dialogue. Well-known wartime tunes provided a real flavour of the times and were expertly sung by Goymer. These romanticised musical depictions of a turbulent time in British history proved a cruel backdrop to Chamberlain’s angst. They could have been abridged, but remained a crucial feature of the performance.
Chamberlain: Peace in Our Time innovatively injects these historical events with surprising relevancy. Many look back on Chamberlain as a weak and spineless leader. However, juxtaposed against the cowardice seen in many of our politicians today, Leeson’s Chamberlain shows real backbone. The new perspectives within this new writing are invaluable.