Today: May 21, 2024

National Theatre Live: GOOD

Last seen on our screens in 2008 in the form of a Viggo Mortensen-starring film adaptation, C. P. Taylor’s acclaimed, chilling play GOOD is given new life in Dominic Cooke’s reimagining on the stage of the Harold Pinter Theatre, London. Recorded for cinema broadcast under National Theatre Live, this harrowing story stars David Tennant in the role of John Halder.

Halder appears on the surface to be a traditionally ‘good’ man. A celebrated professor with a loving wife and children, Halder has it all – but he finds himself slowly seduced into a position of unthinkable power in the Nazi Party, with devastating consequences. As cracks begin to show in his psyche and morality, GOOD offers a blistering and disturbing portrayal of the descent into evil.

Tennant is absolutely magnificent here, charting Halder’s long journey into the heart of darkness with a hypnotic and eerie quality. Elliot Levey and Sharon Small are onstage with Tennant throughout, taking various roles in this unique adaptation. Characters will change mid-conversation reflecting Halder’s fractured state of mind, while the versatility of the cold, prison-like stage dressing allows the action to move across Frankfurt. In the hands of a lesser director, this small cast approach could quickly become overly busy and uninvolving. Here, it is masterfully executed and wholly effective.

An ever timely tale, GOOD is a troubling story – and all the more troubling for its relevance whenever it is performed. Here is a story that shows us how easy it is for evil to take hold, for radicalism to be embraced, and for horrible acts to be justified in one’s own conscience. There is a genuinely uncomfortable tension to GOOD. From Halder’s initial invite into the party through to his involvement in Kristallnacht and the Final Solution, the slow descent is skin-crawling – and Tennant more than sells it. 

The performances of all 3 leads are nothing short of flawless, and it goes without saying that the writing by C. P. Taylor is impeccable in its harrowing portrayal of evil. Dominic Cooke’s direction is unique, compelling, and masterful. National Theatre Live’s recording of GOOD is one of the finest pieces of filmed theatre in their catalogue to date, magnificently filmed and immersive in its near-claustrophobic closeness to the leads in the small set.

GOOD is a masterpiece of theatre, made all the more accessible for the masses through the magic of National Theatre Live’s essential work in allowing all to experience these stories.

National Theatre Live: GOOD continues to screen in cinemas nationwide. You can find your nearest showings here.


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