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Even at the theatre it’s impossible to forget that the Olympics are upon us.

But although Tom McNab’s short play is timely it’s hardly in the running for a medal.

In the course of a rather pedestrian 80 minutes, McNab introduces us (as remembered in flashback by American journalist William Shirer, revisiting a very different Berlin in 1948) to some of the main players – both on the field and off – involved in the run up to the1936 Olympics.

Joseph Goebbels is seen persuading a reluctant Hitler that the sporting extravaganza (already committed to before his rise to power) could be turned into a propaganda exercise for his Aryan ideals.

And, with Jews banned from the German team, the threatened boycott by the US comes to a head when leading American official Avery Brundage (sweetened, apparently by the promise of future influence) maintains that politics should be kept separate from sport. McNab makes the point that discrimination was rife in the US too – even if, like the black athlete Jesse Owens, you came home with a quartet of gold medals.

But despite McNab’s own credentials (he’s a former official Olympic observer and coach, as well as a writer) there’s little life on the stage – the information is there, but the dissemination is prosaic.       

Until 5 August, £25 -£32
Sadler’s Wells
Tube | Angel

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Theatre review: 1936 at Sadler's Wells, a play about the 1936 Olympics
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