08:30 Thursday 30 January 2014

Kindertransport review


LAST year marked the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport, when 10,000 Jewish children were shipped from Nazi-controlled Europe to the UK, and to safety.

The evacuees were saved from many of the horrors of the Nazi regime, but instead endured the terror of being pulled away from their families and placed in a foreign land, and the far-reaching impact of the mission.

It is this terror which is played out in the touring production of Kindertransport, Diane Samuels’ hard-hitting and poignant play, on stage in Derby until Saturday.

Beginning in Hamburg in 1939, the play tells the story of little Eva, whose mother is getting ready to send her on the train to England and her new family.

It plays alongside a more modern tale, where the grown up Eva - now Evelyn - is preparing for her own daughter to leave home.

Both tales speak of loss, separation and the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters - and both do it very well.

The small cast, which also included Eva’s English ‘mother’, gave faces to the thousands of nameless families affected by the well-meaning transportation, and portrayed their stories with humanity, compassion and understanding.

Issues of guilt, family, and the choices forced by conflict were all ably placed before the audience and dealt with in a sensitive manner, leaving me thinking about both the story and its themes long after I left the theatre.

For me, this play was less about the action unfolding on the stage, and more about the realisation of the very human level of impact which conflict had, and continues to have.

If you get the chance to see this considered, intelligent and well-performed production, do not pass it up.

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