Adapting the Model: Plenty and Licking Hitler
WithJohn Bull
Pages 17

The country house in Licking Hitler was David Hare’s most successful historical location to date, linking the old with the new in an account of English history that is both disturbing and challenging. Plenty is the nearest the playwright ever approached to the contemporary epic style, moving him temporarily away from the enclosed locations of institutions and domestic hearths; while the result is a quite remarkable play, the deployment of the new theatrical model caused problems that were never properly resolved. The contrast is striking, the apparent “plenty” of the “never had it so good” years mocked by the real naked impoverishment of both individual and location. Unlike Plenty, Licking Hitler is exclusively concerned with a version of the war far removed from dreams of glory. It is set in an English country house, requisitioned for use as a radio propaganda unit to broadcast, from supposedly German sources, a dialogue of lies and defamation to demoralise the enemy.