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Reviewed: The Book Thief at Curve

An epic tale of war, death, kindness and the power of words.

Ensemble cast hold up open books and gather around a man clutching to a book while singing, all cast under blue lighting

The Book Thief, based on the novel by Markus Zusak and directed by Lotte Wakeham, is a musical production that explores the power of words to heal and offer hope.

The story follows a young girl who befriends a Jew her foster parents are hiding in their basement during the horrors of Nazi Germany.

As a stage production, it manages to balance social consciousness with entertainment and holds you accountable for the world we live in today.

Written during a time of political turmoil when hate speech in America was becoming more forceful and cruelty was overtaking kindness, The Book Thief arrived at a moment when history felt like it was repeating itself.

Two children dance energetically in 1940s period costume

It reminds us that history isn't just the past but also the present, and every choice we make will shape our future. Liesel's (Eirini Louskou) journey inspires us to make choices that consider what we have in common, to fight adversity with kindness, and write love over hate.

The cast's ability to capture the audience's attention and create emotion through dance was impressive. They often moved in unison creating a sense of community.

I enjoyed the clever use of warm and cool lighting to help create separation between timelines and locations. As an audience member, it allowed you to keep track of what was happening.

Set designs were well thought out with lots of seamless quick changes. I enjoyed the use of puppets throughout – they were very playful and told a great story. They also allowed us to see things from Liesel’s perspective as a young girl caught in the middle of Nazi Germany.

On that note, one of my favourite and most memorable scenes was when Max (Daniel Krikler) was metaphorically fighting the puppet of Adolf Hitler, I think played by Tommy Müller (Matthew Caputo). There was lots of action and clever use of rope to recreate a boxing-ring.

The cast wears German 1940s period costume while singing and cheersing in a bar setting

I appreciated the level of detail the production had gone to to reference elements of history during this time. For example, Adolf Hitler was made up of newspapers referencing the fact that the dictator rose to power through his words, which were often printed in newspapers to spread his messages of hate.

Stand-out numbers were ‘Hello Stars’ performed by Liesel and ‘Music Nonetheless’ performed by Hans (Jack Lord). Both were very emotional and carried the theme of the performance.

Rosa Huberman (Mina Anwar) balanced the performance with her humour. She has an unmistakable accent that made you chuckle no matter what. I particularly enjoyed her line, ‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph’, said with such relatability!

There were lots more lighthearted religious references scattered throughout, including ‘Christ on a cross’, ‘Christ on a bike’ and even ‘Christ on a cracker’ which was very creative even for me! Every time a character began to say these words you would find yourself trying to guess what Christ would be on next!

Not only did I come away from this performance with a history lesson, I also learnt a few new German words, most of which were swearwords but they might come in handy one day!

children control puppets while surrounded by adult cast members holding books as the narrator watches them, all cast under blue lighting

This review is not complete without giving a mention to the narrator, Obioma Ugoala. Obioma has a notable voice and was able to switch between multiple characters effortlessly throughout the storyline.

Overall, the production is heartwarming and inspiring. The Book Thief reminds us that humankind is tasked with repairing an imperfect world, not with grand gestures but with small acts of kindness, friendship, and social justice.

It's a must-see that will transport you to the horrors of Nazi Germany while holding you accountable for the world we live in today.

See The Book Thief at Curve until Saturday, October 14.

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