Meiwes / Brandes – 3 Stars


Meiwes / Brandes

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 28th April 2018


“in need of work to bring it up to its full potential”


Performed at the Tristan Bates Theatre, Meiwes / Brandes is a new musical based on the grisly true story of Armin Meiwes and Bernd Brandes. The entire piece was co-written and co-directed by the cast of four graduates from RADA. The story follows Meiwes, played by Harriet Taylor, who was a German repair technician turned cannibal, who searched the internet in hopes to find a willing victim. Brandes, played by Scott Howland, was his eager prey, offering himself up to be consumed. Aurora Richardson and Laura Dorn take lead on the more musical elements of the performance, playing minor characters Frankie, Meiwes’ imaginary friend from childhood, and his mother.

The music in this performance is wonderful and beautifully written. It strikes a perfect balance, the cheery pop music being undernoted by much darker, sinister lyrics. Mentions of words like ‘skin’ carry a much deeper meaning when put into the context of a cannibalistic relationship. Using only a piano and guitars, the cast make further use of the instruments as props, fully integrating the music within the narrative.

The story begins a little murkily, only coming into its own in the last half of the performance. At first it is unclear who each of the characters are, what exactly it is they’re doing and why they’re singing sinister love songs, and without prior knowledge of the real story of Meiwes and Brandes, this might be a slightly confusing for the audience. The script, using mostly verbatim messages and communication between the lovers, is well written but perhaps need reordering in order to reach its full potential and achieve a clearer, more impactful opening.

The cast make full use of the very small space, using a table and a few chairs to bring the story to life. The stage at times can feel a bit crowded, and the mother and imaginary friend characters sometimes feel slightly obsolete and unnecessary. It is also important to note that Meiwes and Brandes were both men, and by casting a woman as Meiwes, there is a distancing from the real, raw nature of their relationship. There is no apparent reason for Meiwes to be played by a woman and this is a somewhat confusing element of the play. Although each of the four actors played their characters wonderfully, the casting does seem to have just been a process of dishing out roles between a group of friends, rather than well thought out decisions based on the characters themselves and the type of actors which would have suited them.

The play is extremely interesting, and the musical element alone is enough of a reason to go and see it, but it is in need of work to bring it up to its full potential.


Reviewed by Charlotte Cox

Rehearsal photography  by Camilla Greenwell


Meiwes / Brandes

Tristan Bates Theatre



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