Karen's Way: A Kindertransport Life

The story of a World War Two child survivor is delightfully told in a simple production which exudes energy and passion.

Karen Gershon, a celebrated poet of Jewish origins, travels to Great Britain in order to escape the Holocaust and the trappings of war. The narrative is delightfully told in tandem, as both a younger and older Gershon are on stage. Mostly this enforced the benefits of maturity as an older Gershon (Vanessa Rosenthal) recounts the errors of her youthful ways.

The set is basic, just a bench and some suitcases decorate the space, whilst two musicians accompany the proceedings without becoming a burden. This is all that’s needed; the play is essentially a monologue distributed through two voices and this power attracts attention away from aesthetics.

Rosenthal shines, albeit in a role which is admittedly close to the bone, but this matters not when she is this zesty and impassioned. Largely maternal, Gershon dishes out steely declarations in the closing moments of the show: ‘I will not be reconciled’.

About a poet, Karen’s Way is constantly self-referential and theatrical, neither young nor old Gershon hide the fact that they’re telling a story and the relationship between the two women is a compelling means of presentation as advice and stories are shared. Both Gershon’s share a couple of dances together, linking arms, which is particularly pertinent. It’s nice to see a relatively lateral narrative performed innovatively, and the surrealist presentation Gershon is a fantastic way of expressing the woes of a lifetime.It could feasibly be cut by ten minutes or so, but otherwise it’s a modest and touching effort.

Reviews by Adam Bloodworth

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The Blurb

A dramatic re-enactment with live music of the life of Karen Gershon, celebrated Kindertransport poet and survivor. Telling her story from Germany to Essex, Edinburgh, Leeds and beyond in her escape from the Holocaust.

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