Evelyn’s daughter Faith (Played by Hannah Bristow) is about to leave home, both mother and daughter are finding it hard to make a break. In the attic sorting out boxes, Faith finds a battered suitcase belonging to a young girl called Eva, a nine-year-old Jewish girl who has being evacuated from Nazi Germany. When Faith questions her mum she is shocked by the findings, how does the 9-year-old Eva relate to the grown up Evelyn?
Written by Diane Samuels’, the story of Kindertransport is based on the stories of around 10,000 Jewish children who were evacuated from Germany at the Beginning 2nd World war, to escape concentration camps. These children would travel with only a suitcase of clothes and an identity tag around their necks and it’s most likely that they would never see their parents again.
The play takes place across two different time frames, during and after the war, with Leila Schaus playing Eva as a child and Suzan Sylvester playing her as a grown up. It’s a play full of symbolism, this includes the future and past characters interacting with each other and the central theme of leaving your past behind you is often symbolized by the dismantling of the stage as Eva becomes Evelyn and dismantles her past.
In a week where we’ve had World Women’s Day and Mothering Sunday, it’s appropriate that the cast is mainly female. The only male actor is Matthew Brown who plays the Ratcatcher and hangs over the whole show, often appearing in shadows and hiding behind doors. This does a great job bringing a sense of fear and reminding the audience of the ongoing threat of the war lurking in the shadows, as well as the threat of forgetting who you are.
The play does a great job of using such a simple stage layout. Throughout the show the stage almost became a character in the show, at one point being converted into a train station and throughout the night being slowly dismantled.
Another theme shown through the night is the theme of parents doing right by their child, whether this is Helga, (Played by Catherine Janke) who sends her daughter away for safety, or Lil (Played by Jenny Lee) who takes Eva in and looks after her during these difficult times. The play also focuses on the experience that we all have, that of the inevitable separation between a child and parent, something that is still relevant for all of us today.
Go to the show, expecting an emotional night and lots of symbolism, that I’m still finding myself reflecting over now. The cast do a fantastic job of telling the story that very much needs to be told, a time when people had no choice but the flee their homes due to the oncoming threat of war and death.