David Tennant returns to the West End in Good, plotting the descent of one “good man” into fascism
Once and future Doctor Who star David Tennant’s latest project, a revival of powerful moral drama Good, has opened at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London. Set in Berlin during the 1930s, it seem Tennant take on the role of literary professor John Halder in CP Taylor’s play. Halder is a devoted family man who preaches liberal values from his lecture theatre in Berlin University. Politically opposed to the new government of Adolph Hitler, he nevertheless convinces himself it will all blow over and chooses discretion over taking a stand for his beliefs. It’s the beginning of a path of corruption and moral decay. One that brings Halder step by step into darkness over the next decade. Or has the empty hole where his conscience should be, been there all along?
Yet the play ponders how Halder manages, at each point along the way, to convince himself he’s still “a good man.” He assures his Jewish best friend Maurice that his Nazi party membership card is a meaningless piece of paper to prevent the fascists blocking his upcoming promotion. Then he tells himself that his presence at Nazi rallies and the intimidation of local Jewish businesses is just for appearance’s sake. But a few years later, he’s joining the SS, convincing himself that any German Jews who’ve failed to flee their homeland only have themselves to blame for what’s to follow. Good examines the apathy of evil, and how the indifference of the amoral can facilitate acts of evil as easily as the fanaticism of the zealot.
Tennant gives a “terrific,” “magnificent,” and “riveting” performance as Halder
Following previews, Tennant’s performance as Halder has been praised by reviewers. Time Out calls it “terrific,” “perfectly judged,” and “disturbing.” The Guardian calls Tennant “magnificent” and “unnerving.” The Standard says he’s “chillingly plausible” as Halder, and West End Theatre says he’s “riveting: witty and intensely human but also brilliantly precise.”
Originally produce by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1982, Good was adapted into a film starring Viggo Mortensen as Halder in 2008, co-starring future Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker as his lover. This new production comes from Olivier Award winning director Dominic Cooke. It runs at the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre until Christmas Eve, with tickets starting from £32.