How Eva Von Schnippisch Single-Handedly Won WW2 | Brighton Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett

How Eva Von Schnippisch Single-Handedly Won WW2

Note: This review is from 2017

Brighton Fringe comedy review by Steve Bennett

Sally Bowles would be proud. Eva Von Schnippisch is as vampish a man-eater as you would expect from the decadent and debauched clubs of Weimar cabaret.  ‘Marlene Dietrich?’ she pronounces cattily. ‘I taught that bitch all she knows.’

The highlight of this show comes before it really starts, as she bullies, cajoles and seduces her audience in true dominatrix style. At her command, we instantly buy into the pantomime atmosphere – but definitely a grubby-minded panto for grown-ups – all parroting ‘ja, Eva, ja,’ on cue, fearful of repercussions if we don’t.

After the filthy, flirtatious set-up… well, more of the same as she regales us with her story of wartime derring-do. The Girls’ Own adventure all started after she was approached by agents while working in her nightclub. Not Hollywood agents, as she had hoped, but British secret agents who wanted her to use her feminine wiles to bring down the Nazi Party from the top.

The ensuing romp takes her through Moscow, France, Britain and the Führer’s Alpine retreat, with all the accents to match, while some simple projections help set a classy aesthetic. 

In truth, the characterisations and the plot make Allo Allo look like a harrowing documentary about the hell of war, but it doesn’t matter much. This is a show built entirely on Von Schnippisch’s larger-than-life personality, and that's some robust foundations.

The story is merely an excuse for Eva to prowl the stage, donning various stocking-flashing outfits and occasionally belting out a sincere, powerful song (all composed by Oliver Collier) with quite some oomph. The performance is enjoyably loose, paying no heed to any fourth wall that would give the audience sanctuary to hide from her considerable charms. She’s great off-the-cuff, and keeps the show fluid, happy to stop for a chat when eyelash glue melts into her eyes.

At a shade over 70 minutes, the show is a bit too long for the preposterous and flimsy story. Yet Von Schnippisch’s creator, Stephanie Ware, actually creates a moment of poignancy at the end. But only temporarily, before normal service of cheeky knob gags is resumed.

Review date: 1 Jun 2017
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