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A Frank Exchange

    by Nicholas Marsh

Winner George Taylor Memorial Award, 2016 
(the annual playwriting award from the National Drama Festivals Association)


Drama Play Script: 'A Frank Exchange' by Nicholas Marsh

As a Dutch police administrator absorbed into the Nazi organisation, Helena Claassen finds her work contrary to her every belief and purpose. Yet she is obliged to continue with the status quo, both for her own security and that of her child. To make matters worse, she has been involved with hiding a Jewish family and is under increasing pressure to pass information to her Dutch compatriots, one of whom has developed a romantic interest.

Although she has perfected the art of inscrutability, Helena’s talents have unfortunately been noticed by Inspector Dettmann; a well-educated and cultured man of SS lieutenant rank. He has removed her from the main office and is keen to elevate her duties. This entails working more closely with Nazi policies and those who fall foul of them. Combining a heady mix of charm and cruelty, Dettmann cuts an undeniably attractive figure and Helena is well aware that his disarming nature poses a greater threat than the coarse thuggery of her previous colleagues.

Stressed and overburdened, Helena falls for a trap set by Dettmann and a collaborator, and quickly finds herself in the dreaded interview chair. Dettmann then presents her with an impossible choice. Distraught, she does the only thing she can do, certain that she too is doomed. Instead she is offered an open door. But now she must carry the most dreadful burden of them all.


45 mins approx


(4m, 2f)

  • Helena - 30-40, a Dutch widow whose job as a police administrator has been absorbed into the new, SS-led organisation.
  • Dettmann – 50, an inspector, of SS lieutenant rank, in the Sicherheitsdienst (SD); the Nazi ‘Green Police’.
  • Henk - 30-40, a slightly self-righteous patriot and member of the Dutch resistance.
  • Ten-Haken - 60+,  an old Dutch soldier who works in a factory where he heads a resistance cell.
  • Meinicke - 20+, a fit and disciplined SS soldier who can discern those who are worthwhile from those who are not.
  • Elsbet - 25+, an aspiring young actress before the war.

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