The Potsdam Quartet - Jermyn Street Theatre
Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle
A RARE revival of The Potsdam Quartet by David Pinner (The Wicker Man) runs at Jermyn Street Theatre from October 29 to November 23, 2013.
The Time: July 17 to August 2, 1945.
The Place: Cecilienhoff, Potsdam, Occupied Germany.
The Players: US President Harry S Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister in waiting Clement Attlee, Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin.
The four victorious allied leaders meet to decide the future of the world. As they discuss the state of Germany, the establishment of a new world order and countering the effects of war, another quartet entertains them with the melodies of Mozart, Haydn, Borodin and Bartok.
But as the most powerful men in the world attempt to establish a new harmony, the musicians’ relationships are fracturing. In an antechamber between concerts festering antagonisms arise, old resentments are re-enacted and discord triumphs.
Pinner’s 1973 play is a semi-fictional portrait based on the Griller Quartet who, during the mid-Twentieth Century, was one of the most celebrated string quartets in the world, with numerous recordings and a successful concert career. Whilst part of the RAF Orchestra, the quartet were the musicians of choice to entertain at the conference that was to shape the new order following the defeat of Germany in the Second World War.
Exploring the complex relationships of the musicians, the work explores the themes of war, the function of art and the tensions of creative relationships as well as touching on the subject of homosexuality in the days when it was considered a scandal and a crime.
The Potsdam Quartet is directed by Anthony Biggs, Jermyn Street Theatre’s Artistic Director, and stars Philip Bird, Stefan Bednarczyk, Michael Matus, Daniel Crowder and Ged Petkunas.
The Potsdam Quartet was first performed at The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in 1973. In 1980, it was performed at The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith with Clive Swift, subsequently transferring to The Lion Theatre in New York where it was directed by the legendary Jacques Levy of Oh! Calcutta fame. In 1981, it was adapted for BBC TV in the Play For Today slot, again starring Clive Swift.
As a writer, David Pinner is best known for his 1967 novel Ritual which was later adapted to the big screen as The Wicker Man, the cult horror film starring Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. The film has just been re-released in cinemas to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
The Potsdam Quartet is part of his Stalin Trilogy of stage plays, which also includes Lenin In Love and The Teddy Bears Picnic. His other stage plays include a trilogy of power plays (The Drums of Snow, Richelieu and Prince of Traitors), Oh To Be In England and The Vampire Trilogy (Fanghorn, Edred The Vampire and Lucifer’s Fair).
Pinner has a rich acting career that has included appearances in the West End, regional theatre, film and television. He has just completed the sequel to Ritual entitled The Wicca Woman.
Anthony Biggs previous productions at Jermyn Street include the UK premiere of Ibsen’s St John’s Night, Charles Morgan’s The River Line, Ibsen’s Little Eyolf and a revival of Frederick Lonsdale’s On Approval.
The Potsdam Quartet is designer by Cherry Truluck.
Times: Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm, Saturday matinees at 3.30pm.
To book, call the box office at 0207 287 2875 or visit www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/.
The Potsdam Quartet is the second production in Jermyn Street Theatre’s autumn season and follows Steven Berkoff’s Religion And Anarchy, a visceral study of modern day anti-Semitism.