Kindertransport by Diane Samuels

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Notes on Kindertransport by Diane Samuels. This set of Tower Notes is 59 pages long and is sold as a fully illustrated PDF file with footnotes and linked audio-visual files.

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Introduction: United in Fear: Female relationships in the shadow of the Ratcatcher.

Diane Samuels’ play focuses almost exclusively on mother-daughter relationships, so that potentially important male characters – such as Werner Schlesinger (Eva’s father), Jack Miller (who, with his wife Lil, adopts Eva) and Evelyn’s unnamed estranged husband – play virtually no part in the drama. It is easy, for example, to assume Lil is single when she takes on the task of fostering Eva; in fact, she has a husband and two daughters of her own.

Samuels’ does not downplay the importance of these male characters simply as a device to ensure her audience focuses on the four female leads. The males mentioned above are, potentially, an important enough part of Eva/Evelyn’s story to have been portrayed by the dramatist as distinct, fully-formed individuals. Such characterisation, however, is only reserved for females in Kindertransport so that the dramatist can present the masculine world as a whole as something fundamentally other – and indeed fearful – through the theatrical device of ‘the Ratcatcher’.

Given that Kindertransport is a play about women, the fact that the only male actor on stage represents the varied personas of this nightmarish figure should not be taken as a statement per se about gender relationships. Nevertheless, fear of an obviously male character forms the essential background to all the female relationships in the play: ‘the Ratcatcher’ is the ultimate source of all the unhappiness which the female characters (especially Eva/Evelyn herself) attempt – and largely fail – to overcome.

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Purchase full notes for £4.95 (aprox $7.72)

Diane Samuels