This Beautiful Future, The Yard, theatre review – love during wartime

Bradley Hall as Otto & Hannah Millward as Elodie in This Beautiful Future. Photograph: Richard Lakos

Bradley Hall as Otto & Hannah Millward as Elodie in This Beautiful Future. Photograph: Richard Lakos

This Beautiful Future, directed by Jay Miller and written by Rita Kalnejais, is an age-old tale of love and war. It’s also a clever reminder that life does go on no matter what – chicks will hatch, people will gossip and the sun will rise. But most importantly, love will conquer all – merely by just existing.
The play is a story of two teenagers: Elodie, a French girl in love with Otto, a Nazi soldier two years her junior.

She’s cute and naive, like a character out of a Lucy Maud Montgomery novel. When she speaks, the world almost seems normal for a while – you’d expect the troops to stop fighting out of respect for her. Otto blindly follows Hitler’s doctrine, even though he’s too young to fully understand it. It’s a chilling reminder of how easy it is to manipulate youth, how eager they are to fight for a cause, how easy it is to kill without any remorse when you’re convinced you’re right. It will amaze you how extreme political differences, even between members of enemy nations, are of no importance when you’re a loved-up teenager.

But war is not something you think about when watching This Beautiful Future – love is. Love in times of war, that is, which makes it unreal, extreme and passionate. Love that can spring momentarily amid violence, between the most unlikely pair. Their love is something ordinary, safe, stable in a world that’s turned upside down. It’s love between sworn enemies, but if you take the war out of the equation – it’s just teenagers in love.

Nothing is straightforward in this play – there are two older actors looking back at their life and sharing their regrets, both locked in karaoke booths. It gives perspective to the script, but also prevents us from really getting into the story and feeling the atmosphere of war “shaking the room”. Overall however, it’s an interesting take on many problems and it tells the story without oversimplifying it. How quick are we to condemn someone like Otto, when one day it could be us finding ourselves on the wrong side of history.

Overall, This Beautiful Future is a solid, thought-provoking play that’s well worth seeing. Catch it at The Yard in Hackney Wick – the final night is 20 May.