Having seen the last two plays that Henry wrote (Angel and Borders) I was really looking forward to Games. This is the fourth Adelaide Fringe in a row that Holden Street Theatre has put on a play written by Henry Naylor and like the other three plays, Games did not disappoint. When you see a Henry Naylor play it is usually a one word named play with one or two actors, a very sparse set, minimal props and extremely well written and acted.
Games was written in April 2018 and was first performed last year at the Edinburgh Festival to rave reviews. The play is about two Jewish German sportswomen and their trials during the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich. Gretel Bergmann (played by Tessie Orange-Turner) is a high jumper and Helene Mayer (played by Sophie Shad) is a fencer who both wish to compete in the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. Henry does not hit us over the head with the message of this play rather leading the audience into doing their own thinking and he has that balance perfect. This is a really well-paced play and the hour seems to go by in a flash which is the sign of an excellent play. The two actors put on a splendid believable performance and they both fully immerse you in the story. Games has parallels to today’s political climate and make you wonder if one person’s voice can change history.
It was good to see and talk with the Henry who is here in Adelaide at the moment. He is a very animated character who is quite rightly very proud of his plays. He is hoping to bring Games to New York later in the year and is also hoping that Gretel Bergmann’s family gets to see the play as she settled in New York and only died in 2017 aged 103. If Henry does not write anything this year I would love if he brought his first play, The Collector, to the Adelaide Fringe which has not been performed here.
Fringe Review By Richard De Pizzol
For tickets and show times for Games By Henry Naylor head to Fringe Tix.