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Review: Kinderstransport at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Based on the transportation of Jewish children from Nazi Germany, I admittedly had a pre-conceived idea that this play would be another bleak war drama I’ve seen many of time before. I was wrong.
Creator Diane Samuels insisted the production isn’t about the Holocaust but more about the relationship between a mother and daughter. Director Andrew Hall portrays a very realistic and moving reflection of both. I was unprepared to weep.
Kindertransport opens with the screeching of trains, a dark clouded backdrop and the spookiness of the ‘rat catchers’ pipe echoing around the theatre which grippingly gave me an unnerving feeling.
It’s Germany 1938 and the first scene is of a mother preparing to send her daughter to seek safety in England as the clouds of war thicken.
The heartbreak tugs at your emotions as we see the pair struggle to deal with the abandonment.
The narrative then flips to Manchester some decades later where a mother is reluctant to let her grown-up daughter, Faith, fly the nest. The two stories are ingeniously told side by side until an unfortified discovery is made bringing them both together.
The wooden set was cleverly constructed. Just one room is used to host many scenes with the bed transforming into a train and the wardrobe to a train door without using much imagination.
Under the floorboards bundles of shoes laid bare signifying Holocaust fatalities - I’ve never before felt so sad over an old pair of shoes.
Janet Dibley played the role of Evelyn so realistically and in the second half detailed the horrifying events of her father’s death. This completely surfaced my tears as my thoughts focused on the harrowing realism behind what she was saying and imagery of losing a parent.
The show wasn’t all gloom though, with Lil, played by Paula Wilcox, playing the same gratifying character from two eras with a well-balanced contrast of seriousness and mild hilarity.
The sentimental battle of mothers across the decades trying to teach their child to survive alone was a touching experience to endure and when the curtain closed left my heart numb and mind exhausted. I’m glad I watched it.
Kindertransport is at the Churchill Theatre until Saturday 25 Jan 2014, for tickets call the Box office on 0844 871 7620 or visit www.atgtickets.com/bromley
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