The Ministry of Fear
The British embrace the idea of the Blitz spirit with the familiarity of an old teddy bear. But was the London blitz all that it seems in national myth? One of the earliest writers to question this sacred cow was Graham Greene, through his Blitz-set love story, full of spies and shady characters, with a typically morally ambivalent protagonist.
Dan Jamieson’s touring adaptation of this neglected novel for Theatre Alibi attempts to bring both the atmospherics and dark humour of the piece to the stage. ‘We’ve had messages from people who were in the Blitz, and they were very complimentary about the way we captured it,’ says director Nikki Sved. ‘There’s that sense of chaos, but also of sharp emotion and poignancy about the period. In some ways there’s been a surfeit of information about the Blitz, and we want to get close to the truth.’
The ambience of the period is of critical importance, and Sved feels that the darkly humorous tone can in part be captured visually. ‘We draw on elements of film noir, with that use of colour and direction of light – it’s a fantastic effect. It’s all about capturing the spirit of the book. Greene called it an entertainment, and I can’t quite tell if that’s a misleading term or a useful one, but he certainly hoped that it would engage people more than on a surface level.’
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 20–Sat 24 Apr