The return of Diane Samuel’s Kindertransport to the stage 25 year years after it was first penned could not be more more relevant today.
It is a story of family relationships and secrets set against a backdrop of themes which explore the treatment of refugees, nationalism, anti-semitism and cultural identity.
The story is centered around the true events of the Kindertransport rescue of Jewish children fleeing Nazi Germany and its occupied territories before the outbreak of the Second World War.
There is a challenging uneasiness about this play in which the seemingly humane policy of providing safety for the children is set against their parents’ requirement to have work to go to to qualify for refuge. The policy split many families, leaving the parents to face their fate in the brutal Nazi regime.
Samuels also requires the audience to question the long-term consequences of conflict and its impact on the lives of subsequent generations.
There are two inextricably linked parallel stories in the play – that of progress of young Eva (Leila Schaus) leaving her mother to escape Nazi Germany for the safety of Britain in 1938, and that of her older self Evelyn (Suzan Sylvester) with a daughter of her own in 1980s Manchester.
The stories interchange as Evelyn’s daughter, Faith (Hannah Bristow), preparing to leave home, discovers a box of papers from her mother’s past resurrecting the ghosts of a past her mother would rather was left alone.
There are some fine performances which delve into the intense relationships between mother and daughter and the themes of clinging on to roots and heritage. Hannah Bristow is particularly good as the modern daughter displaying her insecurities and selfish arrogance of youth.
The play is a stark reminder of one of world’s darkest periods but there are lines which are remarkably prescient, particularly as Evelyn refers to keeping her immigration papers suggesting they would be needed in case anyone wanted to send her back.
It is not always an easy play to watch and there are no tidy endings and resolutions but it certainly worth the journey.
Runs till May 5