Review by Emma Whitelaw
BOTH heart-warming and harrowing are the events that unfold in
the small room in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.
A most unusual friendship develops in the harshest of circumstances.
Two men, Benjamin, a Jewish conservative family man, and Hans,
a young German homosexual, find that they have more in common
than they'd ever imagined.
Ben is an established clockmaker, the best in Germany. His job
is to repair broken watches for the Nazis.
He is introduced to Hans, a new recruit who has never worked
with his hands before. Together they work and together they learn
that, in a life-threatening situation, if someone is not your
enemy, then that someone is your friend.
Roy Horovitz is fantastic as the deliciously camp Hans. He is
every bit the optimist and makes light of the hardship they must
To Hans, everything is a festival. Ben, played by the incredibly
talented Rami Baruch, on the other hand, is quite the opposite.
He is far more elusive and it takes much persistence from Hans
to break through his tough exterior and melt his seemingly cold
heart. He soon finds a common interest in which he can do so,
Ben realises that, despite his own religious beliefs, Hans is
perhaps not so uncouth. His knowledge of opera impresses Ben so
much that he begins to warm to the loveably feminine extrovert.
After a while, Hans and Ben become comrades and they begin to
form an alliance against the guard, Capo.
Played by Kobi Livne, Capo is an extraordinary character, he,
too, is a prisoner, but with extended rights.
He also lives under the threat of the Nazi regime and carries
with him a dignity gun, in case they should ever turn on him.
To Ben and Hans, he is neither friend nor foe, yet he poses the
biggest threat to them both.
Capo announces that there is no longer enough work for there
to be two watch repairers. Rather than deciding, himself, who
it is that should stay, and who it is that will face death, he
tells the two men that they must choose their own fate.
The newly formed friendship is severely tested and I won't give
the ending away, but it is indeed an astonishing twist of fate
for all three men.
The intimately close space of the New End Theatre was
the perfect venue for such a production.
The lighting and sound were also a befitting accompaniment. The
single bulb that fell upon the dingy setting helped emphasise
the dark world in which the men worked.
The tick tick ticking of clocks, between scenes, also helped
in plot development. All over, it was a flawlessly stunning production.
The Timekeepers deals with issues of friendship, morality,
tolerance and understanding of other's beliefs.
It is not a story of the devastating and all encompassing Holocaust,
but a story of two men, who laughed, cried, fought and sang opera.
It is the Nazi Germany of two men that shared a world where social
status and religious beliefs no longer existed and friendship
The Timekeepers, written by Dan Clancy. Directed by Lee Gilat.
Starring Rami Baruch, Roy Horowits and Kobi Livne. 14th April
to 25th April at New End Theatre, 27 New End, Hampstead, London
NW3. Box office 020 7794 0022.