Top positive review
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Superb. Believable, touching and chilling.
on 14 March 2002
It surprises me that a play such as this is regularly performed yet still largely unknown. It centres around the character of Eva, brought to England during the Kindertransport which took Jewish children out of Germany, and her adult self, renamed Evelyn, as she helps her daughter, Faith, to move out of home for the first time. The play focuses on the importance of relationships and identity, Eva having forced herself into assimilation into the English culture at the expense of her own culture and relationship with her mother, whom she presumes died in the Holocaust, but who returns at the end, resulting in the final fusing of the Eva and Evelyn characters, who remain stubbornly separate until this point. Based around testimonies from Kindertransport survivors, the play expresses with heartrending realism the events, traumas and emotions experienced by those who escaped the holocaust. Figures of authority, such as policemen, and everyday things such as trains become metaphors for terror well into Evelyn's adult life, and her relationship with her own daughter is jeapodised as a result of her experiences. But perhaps the most chilling feature of all is the presence of the Ratcatcher, the figure of the young Eva's storybook, who led away the children, and here is personified in all the figures of male authority, a constant reminder of a child's worst nightmare: to be seperated from her parents; to be displaced; to be alone.
There is always much debate about who should be allowed to write about the holocaust and what should be written in order to do it justice, but this play has succeeded in both representation of events and as a play in its own right. It is the most sensational play I have read in a long time, and it affected me deeply, encouraging me to read more of the background to the Kindertransport and question the importance of nature versus nurture, and the expense at which mother-daughter bond is broken.