Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Play a Day: Once a Spy

Rachel Bublitz
For Wednesday, I read Once a Spy by Rachel Bublitz, and available on New Play Exchange, an account of a real life World War II member of the French Resistance, Nancy Wake.

The Nazis called her the "White Mouse." They also called her "Witch."

The piece is swift, and exciting, told in brief episodes which take our heroine and her colleagues across France and England. Her adventures get her into many dangerous situations, which she handles with confidence and determination.

She never uses her gender as a weapon, at least not the way this story is told. Wake is not a James Bond hero who has sex with her opponent before assassinating them, there's no monkey business. But she is aware of mans' weakness in assuming what a woman is or is not capable of thinking or doing, and is skillful in taking advantage of that.

The most remarkable scene is one, the one in which she seems most angered and disappointed, is one in which she is confronted with two women, captured by the Resistance. Wake is told they are being held as spies, but in reality they are being used as sex slaves for the soldiers. Wake swiftly determines one is not a spy and orders her released, and the other is a spy, and she Wake dispatches the way she would any male enemy.

The play has many characters, but Bublitz has written it so that it can be performed by as few as six performers. I imagine it would make a great high school drama, for those looking for something thrilling with strong historical context. The feminist angle is important, too.

Nancy Wake died in 2011, at the age of 98.

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