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Right left with heels produced and presented by STIGMAcollective

Right Left With Heels - Tomas Luksys
Right Left With Heels – Tomas Luksys

I doubt the cast and creatives of Right left with heels would mind too much if I said (as I am saying) that I didn’t enjoy their show. It’s not that I have a problem with absurdist shows, but rather that a story about the personified shoes that once belonged to Magda Goebbels (1901-1945) was never going to be all that enjoyable. Goebbels is considered by some to have been the unofficial ‘first lady’ of Nazi Germany (she and her husband Joseph committed suicide the day after Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun did), though others, including me, would give that title to Emmy Göring, the second wife of Hermann Göring, who headed up the Luftwaffe.

The shoes, voiced and personified by Rosa French and Francesca Isherwood, went on to have other owners after they were tried and convicted in the Nuremberg Trials (don’t ask). They don’t care much for any of their subsequent owners, though one, in particular, was disdained by the shoes for being Asian, which appears to be a naïve legacy from their Nazi ‘upbringing’ more than anything else. The same chain of events is told repeatedly, but with each iteration comes additional information not disclosed previously, which helps somewhat to maintain interest. There’s no escaping, however, that there are a lot of lines of dialogue that are delivered several times, and by the third or fourth round (I can’t quite remember which) it started to get tedious.

Deliberately provocative and uncomfortable at times, the shoes’ viewpoints can be abhorrent, at least by contemporary standards. There are deeper meanings to be extracted from what they say, which at surface level are merely scatty and frankly infantile remarks about their various owners and the worlds they inhabit. Being shoes, they are not always in the same room as their owners when their owners have taken them off at home, so they are not privy to every conversation – while there’s a lot they know, there’s a lot they don’t know.

It all ends rather abruptly, I thought, even if it is in a way that strongly suggests that history is only going to carry on repeating itself. Some occasional moving images in the background evoke the Nazi regime, and the accompanying music (composed by Connor McLean) is never imposing, complementing the production’s narrative with subtlety. There are no props to speak of, with the only discernible bits of set being some clothes hung out to dry and one of those wooden benches that one finds in a school gymnasium.

The performance indulges in physical theatre, with the sort of movements that add depth to what is being said, without overdoing it. A show with a title entirely in lower case almost inevitably has a few spoonfuls of quirkiness about it. In a post-show discussion on Zoom, this question (amongst others) was asked: who would be the owners of Magda Goebbels’ shoes in this day and age? Suggestions included Hillary Clinton and Priti Patel. As for the show, this might have been more engaging in a live theatre performance as opposed to an online recording, but as it stands it’s best appreciated by theatregoers who want something thoughtful and unorthodox.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Right left with heels, 13th November 7.30pm (available on demand 13th – 22nd November)
STIGMAcollective, Lithuania/Poland/UK | Performed in English
Our protagonists are a pair of shoes, custom made for Magda Goebbels, the unofficial First Lady of Nazi Germany. Once the epitome of style, and at the forefront of a powerful regime, now they are passed from owner to owner with no control, through the decades of history. On the 75th anniversary of Armistice Day, these unexpected voices tell their own story. And it’s time to pay attention, because it’s our version of history they’re questioning.

Voila! Festival (9th – 21st November)
https://www.voilafestival.co.uk/

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