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Monday, 29 November 1999 18:00

Kindertransport

Written by Al Erickson
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New Jewish Theatre

Through December 16, 2007
Reviewed by Al Erickson
Between December, 1938 and September, 1939, ten thousand children between the ages of five and seventeen were given up by their parents and transported to Britain from Nazi-controlled Germany, Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.

These children, mainly Jewish, were welcomed into British homes and schools, orphanages and group camps. Most would never see their birth parents again.

Diane Samuels' Kindertransport tells of one such child, nine-year old Eva, who is given up by her parents and taken in and raised by an English woman. By the time the war is over, Eva is seventeen. She believes that both her parents died in the concentration camps and tries to become English herself. The play is a kaleidoscopic view of Eva at several points in her life as she deals with her mother, her adopted mother, her daughter and her own guilt at having survived while so many others did not.

Meg Rodd as the child Eva, and Kat Singleton as the adult Eva, now Evelyn, are both excellent in their respective roles, as are Margeau Baue Steinau as Eva's mother, Kari Ely as her adopted mother, and Emily Piro as her daughter. John Flack, who takes several roles during the performance, is also very good indeed. Some of the dialog is in German, yet one need not know the language to understand the underlying meaning and emotions involved.

The 3/4 round stage is small, and I was impressed with Dunsi Dai's set and Glenn Dunn's lighting which not only gave the impression of a crowded attic room for the present-day action but also defined the spaces for the flash-backs which take place in the same space, sometimes at the same time. Doug Finlayson's direction kept the action clean and helped tie the vignettes together into a moving whole. Robin Weatherall's sound design is also worthy of mention.

There are post-performance "talk backs" after every performance during which the audience is invited to hear about and discuss the play with, in many cases, actual Kindertransport participants now living in Saint Louis, as well as with other people knowledgeable on the subject. For more information about the schedule and the discussions you may call 314-442-3283 or check out their web siteKindertransport runs through December 16th [2007] at the Jewish Community Center, #2 Millstone Campus Drive.

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