Goering was the pilot hero of World War I driven to the Nazi party by a burning sense of shame for his country's humiliation at Versailles. Drawn reluctantly into war by his unswerving loyalty to the Fuhrer, Goering became not only the brains behind the Gestapo, but the creator of the Luftwaffe, and, more chillingly, the architect of the concentration camps. He was also Hitler's second-in-command and the highest ranking Nazi at the Nuremberg Trials. There, his defence was astounding: logically brilliant - morally indefensible. While his colleagues evaded and pleaded, Goering stood firm citing "truth and honour" as his guide. Inevitably sentenced to die with the rest, Goering cheated the hangman.
GOERING'S DEFENCE gives a startling insight into the Nazi regime and the events that led to the worst conflict the world has ever known. Edgy, poetic and deeply challenging, it shows how easily evil can triumph over morals when power is at stake.
At a time when the far Right is finding its voice again, GOERING'S DEFENCE is extraordinarily timely. The writers provoke and challenge by making us listen to someone justifying the unjustifiable - by making us almost agree with him.
REVIEWS FROM EDINBURGH 2002
edinburghguide.com, 3 August 2002
"This is another fine piece of work from Guy Masterson Productions and TTI. Serious but enjoyable, historical but bang up-to-date.. . Ross Gurney-Randall gives a Blitzkrieg of a performance. . . It's no boring history lesson. . . In fact, he is relishing the chance to expose the simplistic U.S perception of him. . . This script challenges the popular notions of the Third Reich and WW2; it leaves the audience shell-shocked and thinking hard; do not miss it." (Max Blinkhorn)
The Stage, 15 August 2002
"Hermann Goering was the system. His skill at spin and cultivated theatricality make his the perfect subject for this slickly compelling portrait. . . Quite what that history is becomes a subtle debate with the audience. . . Gurney-Randall is a convincing condemned man from whom director Guy Masterson evokes a powerful range of emotions. And, along with Andrew Bailey, they have created an epic script that possesses not only a telling eye for dramatic device but also an almost poetic ear for language. Gripping. . . It effortlessly achieves that difficult triple whammy of education, entertainment and provocation." (Nick Awde)
Edinburgh Evening News, 22 August 2002
"A challenging, thoughtful one-man show. . . Gurney-Randall cuts an imposing figure on the sparse stage. . . The play is an intense experience. . . When he is alone in his cell, with only the audience to judge him, he is vulnerable, human and - disturbingly - almost likeable. . . A picture emerges of the devastation, humiliation and resentment in Germany which led to extremism after the Treaty of Versailles. Although it is easy to be repulsed by the Nazis, Gurney-Randall makes it hard for his audience to unreservedly hate Goering. . . Challenging, thought-provoking and intelligent." (Stuart Farquhar)
British Theatre Guide, 20 August 2002
"Shows us why so many Germans supported Hitler and willingly gave up their freedom. . . It is chilling to hear. . . A gripping piece." (Peter Lathan)
Scotsgay Magazine 9 August 2002
"It really hits you in the face" said the person behind me to their partner after the show. I know what they mean. Victors' justice is not pretty, and it's particularly ugly in this show. We see Goering (Ross Gurney-Randall) on the eve of his execution and with excerpts from his trial. At times one almost feels sympathy for him. A pilot hero of the First World War in a country denied an airforce by the disastrous Treaty of Versailles. A nation stripped of its honour and pride turning in desperation to Hitler. The horrors that ensued to the Jews and other minorities and the story of the war and attempting to tell Goering's side of it. He comes across as a nasty man but with some basic humanity who at best knew nothing of the Nazi's worst excesses and at worst turned a blind eye to them. As one expects from Guy Masterson a superb production with excellent acting." (Martin Powell)
Reviews from Adelaide 2008
"Ross Gurney-Randall was a high-flying blimp who added an evil edge to Hitler's World War 2 ambitions. Strip away the attempted nobility and this wide mouthed bovver boy was responsible for the Holocaust structure, the Luftwaffe and other Nazi atrocities. Guy Masterson has cast the right man for the truth-tampering job in getting redoubtable Ross Gurney-Randall to recreate Goering's unrepentant defence at Nuremberg. Dazzled by his own chopped logic and damned by his own dirty deeds, Goering decided to use attack as the best form of defence. His audacity is only matched by his capacity for self-delusion and grizzly grandeur. Gurney-Randall gives a greedy gutsy performance." Matt Byrne, (Adelaide Sunday Mail 02/03/08)
"Acted by Ross Gurney-Randall, Goering's Defence is an entertaining recreation of the Nuremburg Trials held in Germany after World War II. Goering was an upper-crust German who pledged himself to assist the working class Hitler 'in life or death' to lift the country out of its economic and psychological trauma after the punitive Treaty of Versailles. This one-man play, a tour de force, a blitzkrieg of a performance, is about the most important Nazi left alive, telling 'the truth' while his associates wheedled and peddled excuses to save their skins.
His revelations and clarifications give us great insights into how the regime came into being and how the machinery for this ultimately evil state was created. But don't get too sanctimonious. A line that made the audience sit up and gasp was the realisation that if Germany had won the war, the Americans would have been up on trial for war crimes against the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Dramatic, poetic, gripping - a triple whammy of education, entertainment and provocation. Highly recommended. Will Nicholas (Adelaide Independent Weekly 02/03/08)
"There's a difference between The Jew and the Jew in front of you. And that's why you must keep your distance." This one line sums up the stage show 'Goering's Defence': just when you think you can come to understand the man who was Adolf Hitler's second-in-command, even possibly admire him in some way, you are reminded that he was a monster who managed to convince himself, with great pains, that he was doing the right thing.
There's not much, production-wise, to 'Goering's Defence'. All we see on stage is one man, a chair, and a spotlight. The narrative weaves between Goering, played by Ross Gurney-Randall, answering a disembodied prosecutor at Nuremberg, and his last night in his cell, where he relates his life story to the audience. The technique is quite effective. At the start of the performance Goering seems almost one-dimensional in his arrogance and righteousness. But as the story progresses, as he refuses to give anything to his unseen persecutors but tells all to us, we begin to see the man as a fascinating mix of the deeply human and the repulsively ruthless.
This is all thanks to Gurney-Randall. He doesn't attempt a German accent, wear a suit full of medals or anything so crass. He simply talks to us as if he were Goering, as if he uniquely understands the person, with all his hubris, spite and terrifying self-delusion. True, the writing, so simple and so clever, is a big part of this production. But it is the mesmerising portrayal of a man you know is irredeemable - whatever else the play does, it doesn't absolve Goering - that leaves a lasting impression. Henry Nicholls (dB Magazine, Adelaide 27/02/08)
Hermann Goering sits in his cell awaiting his execution by hanging. He reflects on his trial and his life, the rise of the Nazi regime, his part in it and those around him. Ross Gurney-Randall, under the direction of Guy Masterson, gives a stunning portrayal of Hitler's second in charge. This is as commanding a theatrical performance as that of Goering himself. Power seems to emanate from Gurney-Randall as he assumes the role, stirring mixed emotions as the narrative unfolds and Goering maintains control of his own life, right to the end, choosing his own time and method of departing. Terrific! Barry Lenny (Ripitup Magazine, Adelaide 24/02/08)
"Hermann Goering: Adolf Hitler's number two, founder of the Luftwaffe and the man behind the idea of concentration camps. Not necessarily the ideal subject for a one-man show. But under the direction of Guy Masterson and with the acting talents of Ross Gurney-Randall, Goering's Defence is a mesmerising look at one of the most infamous and powerful men of World War II. Their script, co-written with Andrew Baily, alternates between the Nuremberg War trial and Goering's cell where we see him examining his life and that of the Nazi Party. Masterson's direction is simple and effective. He lets nothing distract from Gurney-Randall's powerful performance. The set is a chair and a bucket on a bare stage. The lighting casts the right amount of light and shadow to recreate a prison cell. A smooth cross-fade provides a clean transition from courtroom to cell. Gurney-Randall is completely convincing as Goering, even to the point of resembling slightly the Reich Marshal. His is a masterful piece of acting, that presents the man and not the performer. Although this show will not appeal to all, anyone with an interest in history and fine acting should make the effort to see it. "
Brian Godfrey (Adelaide Theatreguide 24/02/08)
"It is the night before Hermann Goering's execution and he is ruminating over his life and his recently completed Nuremberg Trial. Goering is determined to be unapologetic and unbowed to the end. The audience is confronted by a savvy, clever and accomplished warrior and politician, and they have to deal with his deadly logic for the rise and fall of the Third Reich on his own terms. As Goering, Ross Gurney-Randall projects the power of the second in command to Hitler, the man who signed the orders for the Holocaust, and the humility of someone who sees the necessity of self-examination in his final hours. He also has to win the sympathy of the audience for the play, drawn largely from the Nuremberg Trial transcripts, to work. He does. It's scary." Tim Lloyd (Adelaide Advertiser 24/02/08)
Denny Crane wrote: Chilling. Reveals the capacity for evil inherent in every human being.
rebeccastokes wrote: My husband and I both really enjoyed this show. A valuable history lesson, and it is chilling to see how easily history could be repeated with today's current climate, e.g. terrorism, conservatism, refugees, etc.. Showed the human face behind the atrocities committed by those with too much power.
Fringe Babe wrote: Thought this was Guy Masterson. It's not but he wrote it and directed it so nearly as good. But this guy's seriously good too. Uncomfortably good at making Goering kinda likable. My kind of theatre. Seriously worth it!
Squishy wrote: loved it - excellent for making you think about those figures who influence and guide history. Makes Goering a 3 dimensional person - a little disturbing.
Sara wrote: Empathy for Goering????? - Wow - extremely well done - will recommend!
Angela wrote: Marvelous one-hander - chilling but very human. Wonderfully well acted and staged. Goering's actual words to the Nuremburg trials are a giddying example of spin.
saveloy wrote: A must see. I kept changing my mind about Goering. Fantastic Performance!