Kindertransport, Colwall Players

First published in Reviews

It must be said what a remarkable group Colwall Players is. To continue to deliver a wide variety of drama of a consistently high quality is uncommon amongst amateur groups.

The latest production, “Kindertransport” by Diane Samuels has once again raised the standard. The skill of the actors and technicians, guided by the vision of director Lee Farley, produced a stunning evening that any professional company would be proud of.

The title “Kindertransport” refers to the 1938British government programme giving children, mostly Jews from Germany and Austria, the opportunity to evacuate to Britain.

Ten thousand 5- 17 year olds left their families in Europe to escape the threat of the death camps. In the play, Eva is one of those children.

We are shown two mother/daughter relationships, one in the past one in the present.

Both are preparing for a separation. In Germany, Helga is trying to reassure her daughter Eva whilst arming her with the necessary strength to cope with the lonely journey to Britain without her mother. In the present we see Evelyn sorting items that may be useful to her daughter Faith now that she is ‘flying the coop’. Through the introduction of Lil, Eva’s British foster mother and Evelyn’s mother, we realise that Eva and Evelyn is the same person. As the play progresses we slip effortlessly between past and present uncovering layers of storyline. In Colwall, the audience was totally engrossed.

The skill of all seven actors was faultless. The two younger members of the cast (both ex-Young Colwall Players),Harriet Duddy and Holly Daniels, gave remarkably mature performances. Harriet, as Eva, perfectly portrayed both the turmoil of leaving a parent for a foreign land and later the icy barrier she had built up, believing her mother had abandoned her. Holly’s performance showed us the confusion, bewilderment and anger that Faith feels when she accidentally uncovers her mother’s hidden past. Jane Herron, as Lil, inhabits both worlds, past and present, and transforms from kindly foster mother to caring grandmother with no more than a turn of her body. Claire Farley’s controlled performance as Helga perfectly demonstrated a mother’s love by allowing the heartwrenching separation with her daughter in order that Eva may be safe, and later the desolation of rejection by that daughter. Alison Reeves’ sensitive portrayal of Evelyn gave us an insight into the devastating effect her hidden past has on her present life.

Steve Hockett and Joe Herron shared the parts of Ratcatcher, a sinister character based on a disturbing German fairytale, guards and postman. They had the unenviable task of creating a character within the space of a few lines. Both men did this with the skill and professionalism that surrounded the whole production.

The intimate staging and simple set, no more than an assortment of trunks and cases, was perfect for this complex play.

A triumph for all concerned.

by Angela Meredith

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