Lovelock’s oak, given to him by Hitler himself, is the opening image in the play, Lovelock’s Dream Run, by David Geary. Jack Lovelock, who won the 1939 Berlin Olympics, is held in high esteem by Howard, a young boy at a prestigious boys’ school in New Zealand. In order to get to know his idol better, Howard assumes the personas of several people in Lovelock’s time, but he discovers that his hero is not all what he seems to be. While taking on the personas of these two people, he assumes their personalities and thus, assumes Lovelock’s. In order for Howard to assume these personas, the play constantly switches from present to past, to give a deeper insight on both Lovelock and Howard. However, another reason why the play switches to the past is partly to follow the momentous occasion of Lovelock’s win, but to unveil Howard’s fantasy dream and expose the unfortunate reality that Lovelock isn’t the perfect hero Howard thought him to be. The use of juxtaposition of these different moments in time, as well as different people in the past, to reveal the contrast between Howard’s dream and the reality.
A major aspect of the play is the different time settings of the two main characters, past and present. Howard is enrolled at a New Zealand boys’ school while the events with Lovelock take place in the past, in the 1930s. Besides juxtaposing different events in time, Geary also juxtaposes symbolic imaging and different personas. Geary uses the oak tree given to Lovelock by Hitler to symbolize Lovelock’s courage and honor during the games in the beginning of the play. However, through the course of the play, as readers learn more and more about the true character of Lovelock, that symbolism changes. At the end of the play, the oak is cut down, symbolizing Lovelock’s fall as a hero. Geary juxtaposes the two different symbolic meanings of the oak to uncover the truth. Geary also utilizes different personas in Lovelock’s time to contrast Howard’s fantasy and Lovelock’s true character. He uses Leni Riefenstahl to support Howard’s image of the track star, and then Jean Batten to reveal the true characteristic of Lovelock.
In order to become closer with Lovelock, Howard becomes a few of the important figures in that time, such as Leni Riefenstahl or Jean Batten. He dresses like them and uses the journal entries he found in Lovelock’s journal to create the moments immortalized in Lovelock’s journal.
Under the guise of Leni Riefenstahl, Howard recreates a photoshoot between the Nazi filmmaker and Lovelock. In this scene, Riefenstahl promotes Hitler’s regime, comparing the ancient Greek Olympians to Hitler’s “master race”. Howard assumes Lovelock does not respect Hitler, since he refused to recognize Hitler at the march past. Howard, in assuming the persona of Leni Riefenstahl as well as believing his own idealized fantasy, believes that Lovelock is strong in standing up against adversity. Riefenstahl’s character was a means to show Howard that Lovelock would not accept how Hitler ruled. She symbolized the Nazi ideals of fascism and cruelty, especially when she calls Germany “the master race. Riefenstahl was a foil to Lovelock, and made him seem larger than life, which appealed to Howard’s idealized fantasy.
Howard travels to the National Library to read more of Lovelock’s diaries and adopts the persona of Jean Batten, New Zealand’s own Amelia Earhart, to determine the true nature of Lovelock’s sexuality. In these entries, Lovelock does not appear to be humble or polite, in fact, he cuts off many of his interviewers, asking for “no speeches” and appears rude, abrupt, and cold, which is the complete opposite of what Howard expected. This is where Howard’s idealized fantasy and the unfortunate reality collide. Instead of being averse towards Hitler’s regime, Lovelock speaks of the Nazis with “kindness”. He “liked” the Nazis and appreciated fascism where the youths were “drilled and controlled”. In fact, he said fascism was a “fresh outlook”. Lovelock speaks of Jesse Owens, an American track runner as well as an Olympic medalist, and says that even though Owens and every other black man may have the “physique and temperament,” they still do not have the “highly developed brain” to succeed in life. Lovelock degrades Owens as a “deficiency” compared to white superiors.
Juxtaposition is what ties the play together. Geary utilized this literary technique to contrast Howard’s fantasy and the real Lovelock, through the use of different events, personas, and symbolism. Geary gives his piece a nonfiction aspect by using real places, such as Howard’s school, and the Berlin Olympic, however the piece is truly fiction because of the jumps through time. Another reason why this piece is fiction is because Geary assumes the character of Lovelock. Lovelock was a real person, however Geary gives us his own personal take on Lovelocks inner thoughts, actions, and feelings, despite never knowing the man.