Written in 1984 by German dramatist Manfred Karge, Conquest to the South Pole is a story about a group of unemployed friends who go on an imaginary journey to the South Pole, emulating the real life journey of Roald Amundsen. Wanting to get away from the pressures of their real lives, the group are brought together in the reliving of the men who were part of the first expedition to reach the South Pole led by the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. Ahead them are tricky crevasses, thin ice and nothing but danger as they battle on determined to beat the English expedition team lead by Robert Falcon Scott.
The only obstacles that these friends have to tackle however are the noisy pigeons and the washing that seems to be permanently hanging in the attic. With no prospect of real jobs, and fed up with fishing they share the same determination as Amundsen and his men. The instigator is Slupianek played by the always energetic Dean Nolan. He is the driving force and leads his fellow explorers through the many perils that lie in the attic. Completing the group are Liam Tobin, George Caple and Emily Hughes. With most of the dialogue delivered by Nolan, there are moments where others get to shine. Tobin in particular plays a strong role as Buscher and Laura Dos Santos as the suffering wife to Braukmann highlights Karge's eye for strong prominent women.
Directed by Nick Bagnall, this play relies on the cast having to work extremely hard within their environment. There is no set, instead the outer ring of the auditorium is lined with chairs and lots of suitcases and other paraphernalia piled on top. Tents are created using fishing rods, various ladders are used and there are actor's abseiling onto the stage. It certainly is interesting to look at. The subject matter can be a little heavy at times, but Karge wrote this play at a very political time and there are definitely shadows of what was, in the text.
Manfred Karge's language really leaps out from the page and is delivered brilliantly by Nolan, who has a natural talent for comedy timing and really highlights the pockets of poetic brilliance that lies within this play.