Kindertransport Review

27th – 29th November 2014

KINDERTRANSPORT by Diane Samuels

It is rare to witness an amateur production of such quality as Kindertransport, presented by Kingston Bagpuize Drama Group.

The spilt set was ingenious, contrasting the attics of war-time Germany and 1980’s Manchester. The music was atmospheric and the sound effects outstanding, giving vivid impressions of the German train, the boat crossing the Channel and the dockside. The lighting was skilfully arranged and controlled to distinguish between the action in the two halves of the set.

The play reflects the early years of a 12 year old Jewish girl, Eva being sent to England to avoid the oppression of the Jews in Germany and how her life, adoption and change of name with an English family affected her.

The cast, without exception were excellent. The young Eva was played by Ruby Belcher, who, at 14, in her first role with the group, is talented in the extreme, being able to switch with ease from speaking English to German, and as the years pass, gradually lose her Jewish accent. Her later-life, alter ego, Evelyn in the 1980’s was played brilliantly by Paula Eastwood, whose acting skills really shone through, not just acting, but living the part so that it was completely believable; anxious and coming to terms with her background and present life. She was particularly poignant in her soliloquy and we all felt her disappointment at her past being discovered. Eva’s birth mother, Helga, played by Sarah Curran was totally believable, maintaining her Jewish accent brilliantly, throughout and turning from sadness at seeing her daughter being sent off England to anger that she would not join her, after the war, now widowed, in New York and be part of her original Jewish family, unable to accept that she had become anglicised and changed completely.

Evelyn’s English adoptive mother, Lil, played by Andrea Spencer was solid and a force to be reckoned with, struggling with Eva as a girl and Evelyn as a grown woman with a daughter of her own, Faith.  Their relationship was very believable, particularly in the argument scenes. Faith, played by Bryony Harding was strong and enquiring about her mother’s past and often petulant when she did not get the answers she wanted. Her sadness when Evelyn destroyed the evidence of her past was very touching.

The female cast was supported excellently by Rob Bateman in several minor roles of the Nazi officer, railway guard, postman and border guard, even though he had his arm in a sling due to fracturing his elbow a week before the performance. He still managed to manoeuvre the furniture successfully, whilst dressed in his tattered ‘rat-catcher’ costume. He was required to remain seated motionless, for most of the play, which added to the creepy atmosphere of the German attic.

The miming of travel was very well handled and the conversations across time were very well done. The costumes were good for both periods. The set and props were all appropriate and added to the visual impact of the play.

Overall, an excellent production, superbly performed and presented.

Nigel James

 

 

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