The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre.
June 12, 13, 14 & 15, 2002.
by Diane Samuels
Candice Gregory – Eva
Alexis Hills – Helga [her Mother]
Patricia Lyne – Evelyn [Eva’s older self]
Lyn Fernee – Faith [her Daughter]
Elizabeth Wood – Lil
Tony Brownings – The Ratcatcher [and other characters]
Production Manager – John Garland
Lighting – Mike Medway
Sound – Simon Snelling
Technician – Chris Grey
Assistant SM – Olive Smith
Properties – Margaret Davy
Properties – Sue Whittaker
Costume – Cherry Briggs
Costume – Judith Berrill
Workshop Team – David Comber
Workshop Team – Brian Box
Workshop Team – David Collis
Workshop Team – Mike Davy
Workshop Team – Marc Lewis
Language Coach – David Creedon
Design work – Judith Berrill
Publicity – Rosemary Bouchy
Publicity – Rosemary Brown
Front of House – Adrian Kenward
Box Office – Margaret Murrell
Programme Note #1: Kindertransport
BR wrote: “The obscenity pf the Nazi regime was something which British opinion was slow to address in the 1930s. Neville Chamberlain’s return from Munich in September 1938, waving his worthless piece of paper, was greeted with almost hysterical relief. But within months the reality began to hit home. In November the Nazis destroyed thousand of Jewish businesses and institutions – assaulting, imprisoning and killing many thousands of Jewish people. It was in response to this outrage, known as ‘Kristallnacht’, that the Movement for the Care of Children from Germany was formed.
From December 1938, almost up to the outbreak of war the following September, nearly 10,000 unaccompanied children were able to escape on special trains out of Germany – the ‘Kindertransport’.
Most of these children were settled in England, in a clear demonstration of how popular compassion had moved ahead of political leadership. The effect of Kristallnacht and then the images of the frightened Kinder, arriving on boats from Holland, was to inflame public anger in Britain against the aggression and barbarity of Nazi Germany.
The absorption of these young Jewish refugees, and of course the even greater number of families who had been able to escape here from the persecution in central and eastern Europe from the mid-1930s, was enormously enriching to British culture and society. What is less well understood is the trauma of displacement and loss suffered by the refugees themselves. Much work has been done in more recent years to research and record their experiences.
Diane Samuels’ play is a strong but sensitive tribute to that historical record.”
Publicity #1: Kindertransport
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: June 6 2002 issue – Leisure Scene Section – page 5
Correspondent: Michelle Nevell
Text Header: “The age of the strain”
WICK Theatre Company’s next production – Kindertransport – is a fascinating mix of wartime history and present day emotions. Diane Samuel’s play is named after the special trains which were able to get Jewish children out of Nazi Germany before war broke out in 1939.
It follows the story of nine-year old Ea, who escape from Germany to a new life in England. Eva is then adopted, grows up and has a daughter of her own. As she builds a new life she tries to suppress the memories and emotions, but, one-by-one, they force themselves back.
Patricia Lyne shares the character of Eva with local youngster Candice Gregory, as we see both the grown-up character and her childhood self. Alexis Hills plays Eva’s natural mother, trapped in Germany, and Liz Wood, the English foster parent who adopts the girl.
Running through the action are a number of sinister characters played by Tony Brownings.
The play is the finale of this year’s two Adur Festival programmes at the Barn Theatre, Southwick, and the Wick Theatre Company would like to extend a special invitation to and Kindertransport Kinder living in the area, or their families.
Kindertransport is on at the Barn Theatre from June 12 to 15, at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £5 from the box office on 01273 597094.
Review #1: Kindertransport
Publication: Shoreham Herald
Publication Data: June 20 2002 issue – Leisure Scene Section – page 14
Reviewer: Jamie Hailstone
Text Header: “Compelling, moving, uncompromising”
Sub Header: “Cast’s courage in war drama”
COMPELLING, moving and uncompromising are just three words that I could use to describe Wick Theatre Company’s latest production Kindertransport.
To take on a subject matter as emotive as the horrors of Nazi Germany, the Holocaust and the emotional repercussions therein would be a difficult job for any theatre company, professional or otherwise. It is a testament to the Southwick-based company, and in particular director Bob Ryder, that they delivered such an outstanding performance with just six cast members.
Diane Samuels’ play follows the story of nine-year old Eva, who escapes from Nazi Germany to a new life in England in 1939. Eva is adopted by a foster parent in Manchester and builds a new life. But 40 years later, when Eva’s [now Evelyn] daughter, goes searching through her mother’s attic, she begins to discover a side of her mother she has never seen before.
Making excellent use of the Barn Theatre, Southwick, and lighting, the cast alternated between World War Two and modern day England. All the cast had to play demanding rôles. In particular, credit must go to Candice Gregory, who played the young Eva and made the fictional character seem very real indeed. Alexis Hills played Helga, Eva’s real mother, who had to make the agonising decision to send her daughter away to avoid the horrors of persecution.
Elizabeth Wood, who played foster mother Lil, had a particularly demanding rôle, as her character went straight from the wartime scenes to modern day without skipping a beat. the performance was such, though, that the audience genuinely empathised with Lil and the problems she faced in both eras.
The modern day mother and daughter scenes were brilliantly played by Patricia Lyne, as Evelyn, and Lyn Fernee as her daughter, Faith. Tony Brownings played Ratcatcher and other male characters, including Nazi soldier and an English policeman that Eva faced back in World War Two.
The use of music, lighting and the space in the Barn Theatre itself all brought the scenes to life as well.
This was not an easy production to put on; it had to be handled with sensitivity and courage. The fact that Wick Theatre Company pulled it off shows how much of a force they are to be reckoned with. It was a story that needed to be told and they did it brilliantly.
Review #2: Kindertransport
Publication: Brighton Argus
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Barrie Jerram
For its contribution to the Adur Festival the Wick Theatre Company have chosen a strong but moving play, which depicts the coming to England for safe haven before the outbreak of War of a young Jewish girl, Eva, and the subsequent traumatic effect it had on her adult life, in particular with her own daughter. This fine play by Diane Samuels is cleverly constructed in that it allows both generations to be on stage at the same time.
Bob Ryder and his technical team are to be congratulated in ensuring that the transition, from one time zone to another, was achieved seamlessly and without confusion. The simple set consisting of a trunk, several suitcases and some cardboard boxes were sufficient to fulfil the two locations – trains and an attic. The right atmosphere was a crucial part of the play and this was achieved right from the moment the audience was admitted into the hall and carried on throughout the play by the skilful use of lighting and sound.
Each actor gave a performance of the highest calibre, with Candice Gregory, as the young Eva, being outstanding. She was totally convincing as a child who we first see at ten years old. In fact I was convinced that she was much younger than I later learned her real age to be. It was only much later that I realised I has seen her in the last production – a total transformation! Along with the rest of the audience I was moved by her portrayal of the child’s emotions at having to leave her German home, to start a fresh life in a strange land and to assimilate a new culture. It gave an insight perhaps to similar emotions experienced by more recent refugees and added a topical edge to the play.
Helga, Eva’s mother, is apart in two halves and Alexis Hills managed the transition beautifully. We were given a portrayal of a sophisticated woman at the start hiding her grief at having to send her child away whilst at the same time refusing to help her daughter with domestic tasks thereby preparing her for what lay ahead when she would have to fend for herself. A lesson well learned that then rebounded on her when they meet up after the War. Her transformation into the survivor, shorn of sophistication and totally bewildered by her daughter’s rejection, was remarkable.
The part of Evelyn, the older Eva, is a difficult one in that the actor has to find the right balance between the cold, efficient shell that she had build up round herself to shut out the past and the catharsis brought about by being made to face up to the past. Patricia Lynne fully achieved this balance.
It was pleasing to see Lyn Fernee again – last seen in The Trojan Woman in Brighton – and to watch another first-class performance as Faith, Evelyn’s daughter. Her anger and bewilderment at discovering the past and her history that had been kept from her was pitched at just the right level.
Elizabeth Wood as Lil, the surrogate mother of Eva/Evelyn gave a sound performance, mixing the Northern bluffness of the character with the warmth she felt for her ‘daughter’. Tony Brownings played several rôles and, whilst each one was a figure of authority that induced terror in Eva, he managed to make each character different.
On a negative note I was at a loss to understand the symbolism of the closing tableau.
All in all a splendid production that would not have been out of place on a West End stage.
Review #3: Kindertransport
Publication: Words & Music
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Gordon Bull
Bob Ryder’s directing of Kindertransport was a masterful production of flashback and phobia. Eva, the refugee child from Hitler’s Germany, and Evelyn as her later Anglicised baptised self, attempting to disguise her tragic and Jewish past from teenage daughter Faith, were cunningly contrasted in their respective time-shifts. At all levels the dichotomy between the mother-child relationship and transference of loyalty to the foster-mother Lil, as ‘Mum’ who was ‘always there when needed’, was keenly focused and had its traumatic effect. Together with the chaotic childhood this spawned a confusing guilt complex which sullied Evelyn’s handling of Faith, who innocently became unsure whether to cut and run, and thence by chance came across her mother’s secret. Not surprisingly the knock-on effect of the evil Nazi empire was subsumed into the frightening Ratchatcher of Hamelin, whose black presence caused such unforeseen psychological pain ever after.
The Wick Theatre Company gave strong individual performances, through the walk-on parts of Tony Brownings to the realistic quick-fire bilingual and tragic ‘nine-year-old’ Eva [Lyn Fernee] knowingly clued-up as the effervescent adolescent. Distraught, loving foster-mum Lil [Elizabeth Wood] held the scales nicely, reminding one well of the important rôle played in the War by the many kind but necessary carers who unselfishly shared their own children’s rightful attention and home to safeguard others.
Review #4: Kindertransport
Publication: Jewish Chronicle
Publication Data: Unknown
Reviewer: Cecily Woolf, Brighton & Hove Correspondent
The Wick Theatre, at Southwick, West Sussex, staged a production of Diane Samuels’ Kindertransport.
The Imperial War Museum provided recordings made by Richard Dimbleby for the BBC.
Cast members used a family Hagadah in the play, which was performed as part of the Adur Festival.
Review #5: Kindertransport
Publication: Wick Newsletter
Publication Data: July 2002
Correspondent: Diane Robinson
On the Thursday evening when I went to see Kindertransport, a play based on the horrors of Nazi Germany, it seemed that no one wanted to leave their seats when the play finished. Apparently it had been the same on the Wednesday night. For it was difficult to just walk out after watching something so sincere, so compelling, and so moving.
Kindertransport is a powerful and thought provoking play, very well written, tight and completely absorbing. The way the past and present are wound around each other, with the story line gradually unfolding, really created a very dramatic insight into the traumas and guilt suffered by the characters.
As soon as one entered the auditorium in the Wick production, the mood was set. The lighting, music, sets and props making clever use of the space to create a multi-functional acting space; the suggestion of an attic, in a space that also was a Jewish home in the throes of packing. The mood was immediately sombre, light being thrown from a window into a dark space.
In fact the lighting throughout the play [designed by Mike Medway] was very successful. Moods were subtly created, places suggested, and special effects used to bring out aspects of the play. The music and sound effects too [engineered by Simon Snelling] were obviously carefully chosen to help create the desired effect and mood, often adding to the poignancy of a moment. The use of light and sound to create the train made it not only seem real, but almost threatening, with its all-pervading presence.
From the beginning of the play all the characters were absolutely convincing for me. Eva, played by Candice Gregory, was a young girl. The way she sat, her mannerisms, the way she looked at other characters and her voice were extremely well studied, and her gradual ageing to an anglicised 17-year-old was very convincingly executed. All the characters went through some element of change and all of them did so with great skill. Alexis Hills was wonderful as Eva’s mother Helga, who began the play as a confident, cultured, caring mother, and changed very dramatically by the end of the play, both physically and emotionally. Patricia Lyne was also excellent as Evelyn, Eve’s older self, apparently very controlled and refined at the beginning of the play, but changing as the story progressed. As she seemed to be forced to look back, so her appearance and emotions became more dishevelled. Faith, her daughter, was also played to great effect, by Lyn Fernee, whose insistent questioning and refusal to back down created the drama.
Lil, Eve’s English foster-mother played by Elizabeth Wood, was a particularly demanding rôle, constantly jumping as it did from past to present. But one that the actress coped with admirably, making the switches, sometimes it seemed almost in mid-sentence, extremely naturally. Tony Brownings played the Ratcatcher, and all other male characters with an almost menacing authority, his excellent use of space suggesting that he was always there and always just a bit too close.
It was difficult play and one which director, Bob Ryder and all the cast handled with great sensitivity. At times I felt the mood was perhaps just a bit too sentimental, but as the production was extremely successful in making the audience empathise with the characters, enabling them to understand the very complex emotions that all of the characters were going through, perhaps this was necessary.
Wick’s production of Kindertransport was a wonderful piece of theatre, with good direction, excellent use of space, fine acting and imaginative and well-executed technical effects. It was a complex and moving story, extremely well told.