Kindertransport – Stage Review

Judging by the amount of school children attending last night, it was heartening to learn that somewhere in the L3 area of the curriculum, there is room for these kinds of ‘out of classroom’ outlets to aid the education of young people in their understanding and appreciation of a subject. This is a new production, and the Kindertransport author, Diane Samuels, herself, offers talks and leads workshops about the movement in educational settings.

Emma Deegan as Helga -and Gabrielle Dempsey as Eva
Emma Deegan as Helga -and Gabrielle Dempsey as Eva – Photography by Robert Day

This is a play where The Holocaust is more of a backdrop. In this piece we learn a little bit about the precarious existence of Jewish people in Vienna particularly, and, we learn much more about the transportation, prior to the outbreak of WWII, in 1938, of 10,000 children who were ferried to safety from both Austria and Germany. Nevertheless, primarily, this is a play about painful decision making, about love and kindliness…about hopelessness, and, yet, at the same time, hope features too, in all the madness.

This is straightforward storytelling, and director, Andrew Hall, together with the Belgrade Theatre does this expertly, sensitively and creatively. The place and time frame switches over five or so decades, but characters (which are sometimes younger/older versions of themselves,) remain on set at times, quiet and motionless, until the spotlight is on them once again.

Prepare to be rocked back on your heels by top class performances by all members of the cast. This is an example of great team working. Gabrielle Dempsey (Eva) and Rosie Holden (Faith) are convincing enough, but Janet Dibley (Evelyn) and Paula Wilcox (Lil) provide the heart and the soul, neither one riding on reputation alone, yet professionalism exudes from these two. Altogether, the way these four women enact the mother and daughter relationships, that we, of the sisterhood, have experienced while living our lives in peace time England, is so identifiable!

Paula Wilcox as Lil and Gabrielle Dempsey as Eva
Paula Wilcox as Lil and Gabrielle Dempsey as Eva – Photography by Robert Day
Janet Dibley as Evelyn and Paula Wilcox as Lil in Kindertransport
Janet Dibley as Evelyn and Paula Wilcox as Lil in Kindertransport – Photography by Robert Day

In the year that marks the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport this quality production tells of the unimaginable situation of having to leave behind one life and start again with another.

Cast List:

Paula Wilcox – Lil
Janet Dibley – Evelyn
Emma Deegan – Helga
Paul Lancaster – Ratcatcher
Gabrielle Dempsey – Eva
Rose Holden – Faith

**** four stars

Note: Reviewer, Debra Hall, attended the press night showing of Kindertransport on Thursday 24th October at The Belgrade Theatre, Coventry in an official capacity on behalf of Remotegoat Stage. This review also published here

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