Blonde Poison @ The Old Fitz

Belinda Giblin plays Stella Goldschlag in Gail Louw's BLONDE POISON currently playing the Old Fitzroy theatre. Production photography by Marnya Rothe.
Belinda Giblin plays Stella Goldschlag in Gail Louw’s BLONDE POISON currently playing the Old Fitzroy theatre. Production photography by Marnya Rothe.

The real life subject of South African born playwright Gail Louw’s play very confronting play is a notorious figure from the Second World War,  Berlin Jewess Stella Goldschlag (1922-1994).

Goldschlag was nicknamed Blonde Poison for good reason. She was a beautiful, young blonde haired woman who school colleagues had compared to Marilyn Monroe. After being captured and interred by the Nazis, Goldschlag became a catcher- the German name for it was Greifer- for them by revealing the location of many of her Jewish compatriots in hiding to the Gestapo, sealing their fate.

In return for her efforts, the Nazis guaranteed her own safety and that of her parents. Goldschlag did survive the war, her parents were not so lucky- the Nazis broke their promise to her and they were deported to a concentration camp where they perished. She went into hiding at the end of the war but was found and arrested by the Soviets in October 1945 and sentenced to ten years’ camp detention.

Louw’s play is a dramatisation, an exploration, and does not stick strictly to the facts of Goldschlag’s story. This incredulous story is very fertile ground for a dramatist. How does one make sense of such betrayal?!

The play has decisive impact with Jennifer Hagan’s disciplined production. The entire action takes place post World War 2 in Goldschlag’s living room as she waits for a journalist to arrive to interview her, giving her the chance to tell her side of the story. (This encounter is a fictional one, a dramatic device used by the playwright to explore the themes).

Central to the play’s design are the framed family pictures that Goldschlag keeps in various locations around the room. As she goes over things in her mind and agonises about what she will say in the upcoming interview, her constant looking over at the framed portrait of her mother and father says so much without a single word being spoken.

Belinda Giblin gives an exceptional solo performance. Giblin retains her focus and intensity for the show’s ninety minutes. No wonder that she held her hand to her heart when she came out to take her bow! One could tell that she had given her whole heart to this role. Another strong performance in a distinguished career.

What did I take away from this compelling production?  This play said something- in fact, a great deal- about with how vulnerable we all are as human beings. Especially when it comes down to matters of our own survival and those closest to us…It leaves us open to all sorts of manipulation…And what can start off as a desperate compromise can quickly escalate to something much more out of control and with irreparable consequences. And maybe this, sometimes, is where human evil can stealthily walk in and then shockingly take over?!

Highly recommended, Gail Louw’s BLONDE POISON is playing the Old Fitzroy theatre, Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo until Saturday 15h August. Performance times Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm and Sundays at 5pm.

Cast- Belinda Giblin as Stella Goldschlag

Creatives- Director- Jennifer Hagan, Designer- Derrick Cox, Lighting- Matthew Tunchon, Sound- Jeremy Silver, Make-Up- Peggy Carter, Production Manager- Frank Harlow, Producer- Adam Liberman in association with Red Line Productions.