Returning to the West End after a five year absence, Downton Abbey star Penelope Wilton reprised her role as Irmgard Litten in Taken at Midnight when it transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket from a sold out season in Chichester last month.
Putting maternal love on centre stage, Mark Hayhurst’s 2014 play is based on the life of the young German Jewish lawyer Hans Litten who’s brilliant cross examination of Adolf Hitler in the trial of a band of murderous SA men in 1931 led to his arrest by the Nazis in 1933.
The play explores Irmgard’s five year struggle to secure her son’s release. The Guardian said, “Gripping, Penelope Wilton shines in Mark Hayhurst’s deeply engrossing drama about the high price of resisting tyranny.”
Penelope has been nominated for six Olivier Awards, including this year’s shortlist for her “profoundly moving performance” (The Sunday Times) as Litten’s mother.
British actor John Light has been nominated for a Supporting Actor Olivier Award for his role as a Gestapo officer. Jonathan Church’s world premiere production of Taken at Midnight, the new play by documentary film maker Mark Hayhurst, was first staged as part of the Chichester Festival Theatre’s Hidden Histories Season.
It’s the extraordinary story of a young Jewish lawyer Hans Litten who subpoenaed Hitler to appear as a witness in a criminal trial in 1931. he was taken into “protective custody” and sent to Sonnenburg Concentration Camp. The play focusses on the attempts of Litten’s mother (Penelope Wilton) to confront the Gestapo and rescue her son from his inevitable fate.
After it’s success in Chichester, the production transferred to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in London’s West End for a limited run which ended last weekend.
The New York Times correspondent Matt Wolf said “Mr Light is suavely chilling in the part” of Dr Conrad, the Nazi official who plays down the severity of Litten’s fate even though he knows the atrocities that await. Hans Litten died in Dachau in 1938, at the age of 34.