A Lesson from Auschwitz
"as a piece of theatre it excels in practically every single way. There's a tendency for creatives who wear multiple hats to be a little bit precious about their work, but not Hyland, who handles the performance and direction of the piece with the necessary levels of professionalism and skill required. Formidable and physically imposing from the off, he delivers Höss' horrific views with unwavering conviction and the style, variation and intonation of an accomplished public speaker... Ultimately this is two actors, a table and a few props and yet the work itself is of such quality that it should be held up as an example of what can be achieved with so few trappings. But more than this, 'A Lesson From Auschwitz' is a forceful look back at how terrifyingly far an ideology can go. The fact it is delivered in real time and Höss' unwavering, unshakeable belief in what he is doing, rationalising the utterly irrational, makes this piece all the more intensely horrifying. The audience leaves shaken and silent. For subject matter and content, as well as the aspect that there are moments of this play that you genuinely cannot bear to watch, it feels wrong to praise 'A Lesson From Auschwitz', but for construction, execution, skill, and a shocking reminder of humanity’s darkest moment, it is an exceptional piece of work and a vital reminder that something like this can never be allowed to happen again."
~Sophie Adnitt, BRITISHTHEATRE.COM
"The audience is presented with Höss. A man who can be easily described as pure evil as he spouts his national pride and hate for the "vermin", the "parasite", and the "flea" stood beside him in the instantly recognisable striped uniform. This hateful man will make your skin crawl as he laughs at the new found "wonders" of Zyklon B and yet, his almost charismatic speech will leave you amazed at how he clearly believes he is doing the right thing. Both Michael Shon and James Hyland are simply brilliant in their respective roles and deserve the highest of applause for these powerful performances... I honestly believe this was one of the most powerful and most important pieces of theatre I’ve ever seen."
~Chloe Fry, CENTRE STAGE
"Powerful, disturbing, unimaginably cruel and thought provoking. For the duration of this play at the Two Sisters Arts Centre I sat gripped and stiff, totally engrossed in the performance by James Hyland, an incredibly talented playwright and performer... make sure you book, but prepare to be moved and shocked."
~Laura Locke, FELIXSTOWE RADIO
"Both performances here deserve recognition and considerable praise, though they certainly don't make for comfortable viewing - but such is the nature of the play's subject matter. James Hyland convinces admirably as a man who has totally absorbed a shocking and inhuman philosophy to the extent that he can countenance any deed, including mass murder on an incomprehensible scale. Though there are times when Höss seems manic, he is not insane or mentally deranged, but a man wholly assured of his purpose and duty, and intent on persuading (or forcing) others to follow his lead. At times, Mr Hyland's Höss is exceedingly scary, able to send uncomfortable shivers down one's spine and making us all feel awkwardly unsettled when addressing us directly... an important warning and lesson from a vile and shameful period of history - that we must be ever watchful for the emergence of such repulsive ideologies in the future and be prepared to fight against them."
~Peter Brown, ACTDROP
"The two actors playing the roles of victim and persecutor, Michael Shon and James Hyland, are in their contrasting ways, magnificent. The vast majority of the text is delivered by Hyland to us, his audience, in a mesmerically disturbing fashion... a powerfully realised drama that finds new angles on these events where so many have trod before... this easily portable drama should be seen up and down the land, whether in schools or elsewhere, not just as the most powerful refutation there could be of Holocaust denial (still very much with us), but also as a majestic statement of the power of theatre to bring to the surface the most unpalatable moral facts."
~Tim Hochstrasser, PLAYS TO SEE
"James Hyland's portrayal of Höss is frightening - a sadist and a manipulative bully who seems capable of any atrocity. His rhetoric style reminds me of Roland Freisler, a Nazi judge who completely perverted his office... Directed, written and produced by James Hyland, this production should be seen by all - especially in the light of recent events."
~Carolin Kopplin, UK THEATRE NETWORK
"James Hyland who plays “Höss” (as well as writing, directing and producing the piece) is superb as the sadistic commandant whilst giving us glimpses of the madness of the man. He spits out venomous rhetoric about eradicating an entire race whilst a tiny smile plays around his lips... it's important that plays like this are seen by as many people as possible"
~Alan Fitter, LONDON THEATRE 1
"As Höss, James Hyland has an imposing physical presence and an air of authority: he delivers the Nazi’s speeches with conviction in a chilling and uncomfortable performance... This is an incredibly powerful piece by Brother Wolf... The 'lesson' from Auschwitz that Höss wanted to impart might have been one thing, but the lesson we learn is another."
~LOITERING IN THE THEATRE