Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Kindertransport review at Nottingham Playhouse – ‘sensitively directed’

Scene from Kindertransport at Nottingham Playhouse. Photo: Catherine Ashmore
by -

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Kindertransport, the operation to get Jewish children out of Nazi Germany. But Diane Samuels’ play – first performed in 1993 – is also timely in the context of today’s refugee crisis, which again sees anguished parents sending fearful children into the unknown.

The action takes place across several time frames and is woven together and conflated with the story of the Ratcatcher of Hamelin. Fiona Buffini directs her revival with insight and sensitivity and Madeleine Girling’s versatile set design, with its black background and mountain of attic jumble, also brings clarity to the storytelling..

Jenny Walser plays the resilient child, Eva Schlesinger, sent to live in Manchester, with a quaintness that brings a lump to the throat. Two generations later, stormy accusations fly and mother-daughter relationships are still being damaged.

Cate Hamer gives a searing performance as the distressed Evelyn. You can see every muscle in her face working as she resists her angry daughter, Faith (Elena Breschi), desperate to know herself and her heritage. Denise Black lights up the stage as the no-nonsense Mancunian grandmother, and Rebecca D’Souza is compelling as the fragile German mother who paid the bitter price of separation.

The play raises numerous questions. How do you decide what’s best for your children? Should you preserve your religion at all costs? But the triumph of the writing, and of Buffini’s revival, is its warmth and humanity.

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
Timely, sensitively directed and immaculately performed revival of Diane Samuels’ play