Review: Dreams of Peace & Freedom (C Arts, online)

A richly layered piece conceived by Tom Blackmore and written by Sue Casson, descendants of David Maxwell Fyfe, prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, Dreams of Peace & Freedom celebrates the concept of natural law by mixing words, music, and images. Subtitled The Human’s in the Telling it focuses in on both the personal and the political.

Maxwell Fyfe was a Conservative politician devoted to the idea of freedom – his journey from Nuremberg to Strasbourg (eventually the centre of the European Court for Human Rights) is developed here from a deeply family perspective as all participants are direct descendants.

Robert Blackmore plays Maxwell Fyfe, communicating his speeches and letters, private thoughts and public pronouncements. Lily Casson both portrays Sylvia Maxwell Fyfe, wife to David, and sings alongside Sue Casson, the composer of the song cycle. Tom Blackmore directs the piece, which was meant to be going on a stage tour but has instead been captured in livestream form.

This is a clear labour of love which has taken form over many years, since the youngest participants were children. As well as this film, there is also a detailed website, an Instragram projecton “streams of natural law”, and much more.

Promotional image for English Caberet's Dreams of Freedom

Maxwell Fyfe remains a devisive figure (his work with the Wolfenden Report, which recommended decriminalising homosexuality, when he was Home Secretary, is one example where he may seem out of step with basic human rights), but his overall legacy is presented here in a celebratory and moving form.

Poems by Rupert Brooke rub shoulders with the Magna Carta, speeches from the Nuremberg Trials, and more. As a film, the link between words, static images and songs has been well planned, but the performances can sometimes seem a little static. I would have been interested to see footage of Maxwell Fyfe himself delivering speeches which would have also brought him into focus as a real figure.

You can of course search YouTube to find footage of the man himself, and you can visit English Cabaret’s channel to find Dreams of Peace & Freedom: The Human’s in the Telling in podcast form.

The film of this piece is streaming on CArts – book your tickets here.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review Dreams of Peace & Freedom.