Play faces memories of Holocaust

by Andrew Twite
February 27, 2003
The Lantern - Arts
Ohio State University Newspaper

Imagine being a Jewish mother living in Germany during the Holocaust. As if times weren't hard enough, imagine having to put your child -- alone -- on a train out of the country in order to ensure its safety. Many mothers would agree that this would be a difficult decision to make to say the least.

The Contemporary American Theatre Company latest production, "Kindertransport," tells the heart-wrenching story of a Jewish mother who sends her 9-year-old daughter on a train to England in order to save her from the Nazis. The young girl grows up and as time passes her memories fade. Forty years later, the daughter, now a British citizen and mother, is forced to confront her painful past in order to create a better future for her own daughter.

Written by Diane Samuels, "Kindertransport" was inspired by the real-life evacuation of 10,000 Jewish children from prewar Nazi Germany and their subsequent placement in English foster homes.

Media Credit: Courtesy of CATCO
Mandy Bruno, left, and Kerry Shanklin star in CATCO´s "Kindertransport."
"Kindertransport is the informal name for the rescue effort for Jewish children during the Holocaust," said Lori Segal, former Ohio State English professor and Kindertransport survivor. "It refers to the child Holocaust survivors who were sent without parents, out of Austria, Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia to Great Britain."

The story simultaneously depicts two epochs in the womans now normal life. Evelyn (Amy Warner) has spent a lifetime reinventing herself so as to obscure a painful past that includes the loss of her parents and lascivious advances of a child-abusing Nazi, among other hardships. In an emotional cataclysm, sparked by her daughter, Faith (Mandy Bruno), Evelyn systematically deconstructs the "Memory Lane" she has built to bypass her former life.

"It's a powerful story about a mother-daughter relationship and the need for reconciliation," said Sarah Bacha, representative of CATCO.

"Kindertransport" has received critical acclaim for its emotionally stimulating look at a sensitive subject. Critics have even gone as far as recommending that audiences stuff their pockets with Kleenex before going to see the play. The New Yorker calls "Kindertransport" "a powerful contribution to holocaust literature ... presented with emotional clarity and intense sympathy."