It’s 1944 and the Red Cross have finally been permitted to visit Terezín, an internment camp for artistic Jews in Czechoslovakia.The old and sick have been shipped east, the morgue has been rebranded as a school and a star of the silver screen has been recruited to make a documentary. The only thing left to organise is the entertainment.
The cast is excellent, the songs are excellent and the show is excellent.
Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre take us on a journey as the prisoners struggle to decide what to do, when in reality the luxury of choice has long since been taken from them. The sheer scope of issues covered by the play is remarkable considering its short timeframe; the value of hope, the benefits and pitfalls of collaboration and the power of love are all explored thoroughly without seeming heavy-handed or anything more grandiose than part of the daily torment experienced by the inhabitants of the camp.
The comedic and tragic elements are expertly measured and Philip Glassborow’s writing is wonderfully cutting and witty, delivered expertly by the young cast. The music is almost note-perfect throughout, making this a production to be proud of for the company. Of particular note are the young men playing the guard, the rabbi and Kurt Gerron, all of whom deliver excellent performances. We see the the malice and all-too-comfortable Marlene Dietrich impersonations of the guard, the rabbi’s defiance and theological postulations, and Gerron’s position as a man driven to desperation.
The cast is excellent, the songs are excellent and the show is excellent. This is undoubtedly well-trodden ground but the experiences of those who went through the Holocaust are approached in a revelatory way in this production.