Costing sins of the father

Bruno and Shmuel

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Children’s Touring Partnership

Belgrade Theatre and on Tour

****

THIS moving ‘fable’ concerns what Winston Churchill described as the ‘worst crime in human history’, the holocaust; delivered through the eyes of Bruno (Jabez Cheeseman, Cameron Duncan, Finlay Wright-Stephens in rotation), the nine-year-old son of a high-ranking Nazi officer (Phil Cheadle) put in charge of a concentration camp in Poland.

John Boyne’s best-selling book has been adapted by Angus Jackson and in making the story so personal and immediate, the author has added immensely to the understanding of the impact of the calculated slaughter of six million men, women and children.

Bruno, his mother (Marianne Oldham), sister Gretel (Eleanor Thorne) and their maid Maria (Rosie Wyatt) are visited by a man Bruno calls ‘The Fury’ – the Fuhre, Adolf Hitler (Robert Styles) and Eva Braun (Eva Bell) and the family travel to Poland. It is an unhappy experience for all of them, and both Mother and Maria more than once caution the inquisitive Bruno that life just isn’t fair.

Through the barbed wire fence, Bruno meets Shmuel (Colby Mulgrew, Tom Hibberd and Samuel Peterson in rotation), born on exactly the same day in April 1934 but living a very different life since the enforced deportation of the Jews from Krakow.

Bruno’s father finally understands that his family is being polluted by the horrors they are witnessing and arranges for them to return to Berlin. But Bruno gets headlice and his head is shaved just like his friend Shmuel.  The friends’ ‘final adventure’ is for Bruno to squeeze through the fence, into his own set of striped pyjamas and become indistinguishable from all the other children in the camp – and there the story ends – for Shmuel, for Bruno and for us.

If I have a criticism, it is that it took rather too long to get going. Also, I found the voices of the young actors hard to follow – but, checking with my neighbour, it was definitely me and my old ears. I loved the set; simple and effective with a huge, turning platform that took up most of the stage area. This was a valuable experience in all ways. Various times during the day to 20-06-15

Jane Howard

16-06-15 

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