Liverpool Playhouse (13th-17th March 2007)
Written by Diane Samuels, Directed by Polly Teale

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a powerful and poignant production by the Shared Experience company, based on the historical event of Kindertransport, which translated from German into English means the transportation of children. In this case the transportation of one of the 10,000 mainly Jewish children forced to flee from Nazi persecution and certain death before war was declared in 1939.

Eva is brilliantly played by Matti Houghton - whether she be nine, thirteen or seventeen-years old, notably in her first-rate German accent. Eva had been sent from Germany by her mother Helga (Pandora Colin), who held little faith that she would see her again.

She is 'adopted' by Lil (Eileen O'Brien) and settles in Manchester and unexpectedly meets up with her mother again after the end of the war. Helga tries but fails to persuade Eva - who insists on being called by her new English name Evelyn - to accompany her and begin a new life in America.

But the main thrust of the play is the often fractious relationship between mother and daughter, namely the sense of abandonment felt by Eva towards Helga, plus the grown up Eva aka Evelyn and her daughter Faith (Lily Bevan).

The conflict between the latter two deepens after Faith discovers the truth of her mother's background while sorting out the attic in her house, coming across various documents and letters from the war.

The entire play is staged in this attic with an imaginative use of props signifying moving steam trains, railway stations and railway compartments.

There is also an ingenious use of the actors, particularly in the way they remained at times in full view of the audience on stage when not involved in the acting, thus giving the effect that the past and the people we have encountered in the past are always ever-present with us no matter how much we change or appear to change. The juxtaposition of different time periods within the play is also striking.

An unsettling presence throughout is the Ratcatcher (Alex Kaye-Campbell) who slithers and skulks around the stage without uttering a word or sound. To me it symbolises - among other things - the Nazi hatred of Jews (they were vermin in their eyes) and the appalling horrors of the German concentration camps. The Germans housed within them were employed to destroy those considered vermin by gassing them.

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Comment left by hannah on 13th May, 2007 at 18:04
Does eva the child, have to have a german accents as i feel it would be better for the actors to use there natural accents but make it so the audience is aware they are german

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