Writer: David Greig
Director: Ria Parry
Reviewer: Sarah Nutland
The Public Reviews Rating:
The play tells the story of Dr Korczak and his struggle to keep Jewish children safe in his Warsaw ghetto orphanage during 1942. We meet Fly, a street child, who is rescued by Dr Korczak and given a safe place to stay. Fly’s opinions about human nature and their society greatly conflicts those of Dr Korczak’s and the production follows his struggle to fit in, as the Germans begin to clear the ghettos.
It’s a strong production with solid performances from the cast. Sam Swann, who plays Fly and Kae Alexander, who plays Stephanie, fully portray the sweet relationship between the two orphan characters, really capturing their playful nature. Ben Caplan givese a solid performance as Korczak and Ginny Holder swapped effortlessly between her multiple characters.
The set divides the space effectively allowing the cast to move around and adds some interesting levels, which the cast optimise. The use of metal and cardboard gives the sense of a stark and harsh environment, symbolic of the characters less than basic existence.
The use of puppets to represent the children in the orphanage was very effective, although at points too much attention was played to them and not the energy and momentum of the piece. The use of cardboard box beds, in the orphanage dormitory, was very inventive. The spotlights used for the scenes between Dr Korczak and the faceless soldier also worked well, highlighting a single gun and the actor, although the one sided conversations occasionally felt a little awkward.
It’s an interesting and insightful piece of theatre that brings attention to the atrocities committed in World War II during the Nazi regime. The use of direct address meant the situation was explained clearly to the young audience and was very easy to follow. However, considering the gravity and power of the subject matter, at times the production wasn’t wholly engaging, resulting in a disconnection from the action.