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Q&A: Tim Plewman on The Last Moustache and what it takes to play Hitler

Posted by admin on November 11, 2014

In the Golden Arrow Studio during November, veteran actor Tim Plewman takes on the incredible task of playing an actor playing Hitler in the last days of the Third Reich. It’s an incredible balancing act and a brave artistic choice, driven by a sophisticated yet hilarious script from writer Greg Viljoen.

We spoke to Tim about the experience.

HITLER PICS 3-20-2013 6-01-04 PMBAX: Where did you come across such great material as this?
TP: Greg Viljoen, the writer, approached me with this script in its first draft form. The idea, concept and quality of writing were superb. After several weeks of rewrites, the play that you see emerged. I was fascinated by the idea. The strength of the piece for me is that it describes the human condition and the kind of abuses extreme politics puts us all through.

BAX: Is it a story that’s been told before?
TP: It is one of the conspiracy theories of WWII, but the story of Heiner Schmidt is entirely fictional. It comes from the brain of the author.

BAX: How historically accurate is your portrayal of real people, e.g Goebbels?
TP: I did look at footage of Goebbels, Hitler and the other nasties and then, exaggerated their eccentricities.

BAX: Is this style of theatre based on the style of the era, e.g Cabaret, Marlene Dietrich etc…?
TP: What I tried to do with Heiner Schmidt is portray an actor of that time entertaining a group of people with his larger-than-life persona.

So when he is telling stories he is larger than life.

That counterpoints beautifully with the real moments we share with him in the bunker when he is not acting. His portrayal in his portrayal of Hitler, Goebbels, etc, speak volumes as to his opinion of the people he portrays so certain parts have a cabaret, Marlena Dietrich feel.

BAX: What should the audience expect from a night with The Last Moustache?
TP: The play is a fantastic balance of between humour and heartache. In the words of Diane de Beer, critic of The Star newspaper, it is a “rollercoaster ride that will leave you breathless”.

BAX: How does it feel playing someone playing someone playing Hitler?
TP: As an actor the opportunity to play an actor on the stage is intriguing. You can bring out all the worst and best observations of your contemporaries…..and, of course, yourself. Then digging into the psyche of an unfortunate soul who is put into an untenable situation by those in power who do not care and who would end his life with no remorse, is extremely challenging. You walk a fine line between parody and reality.

It is a constant fight to balance pathos and humour especially when the monsters you are dealing with have the weight and history of Hitler.

It has been a wonderful challenge to take on Heiner Schmidt.
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The Last Moustache is on Tuesday – Friday at 20: 15 until 22 November in the Golden Arrow Studio at the Baxter Theatre Centre. Tickets are available here.

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