Kindertransport by Diane Samuels

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Characters
EVELYN – Eva chooses a new name which sounds more English, but which is related to her old one. One reason for the change may be that she found most English people incorrectly pronounced Eva as ‘Eeva’, and ‘Eeva’ shares the same initial vowel sound as Evelyn. Her new English name is gender-neutral, and, given the character’s deep-seated fears and anxieties, her choice of a name with potentially masculine associations may be significant.

THE RATCATCHER – A figure from German folklore, analogous to the Pied Piper of Hamelin or Hameln. The Ratcatcher represents her most primal fears: specifically of being separated from her parents.

The play takes place in a spare storage room in Evelyn’s house – The set comes to represent Evelyn’s suppressed memories. Much of the play can be seen as a process of searching through the secrets hidden in the ‘attic’ of her mind.

The Play

Page references are to the Nick Hern Books edition, published in 1995.

ACT ONE

Scene One

3 Ratcatcher music. – There are at least two classical pieces related to the Rattenfänger story, but Samuels’ ‘Ratcatcher music’ has, in practice, been composed ad hoc for each performance of the play. Peter Salem, the composer of the recent ‘Shared Experience Theatre Company’ production of the play writes of the Ratcatcher that his ‘music seems to need a mesmeric quality, an ability to draw people in, lure them in a direction they didn’t want to go in, make them want to locate the source of that sound.’ Whatever particular choices are made by composer and director, these requirements would seem to be essential in capturing Samuels’ intended effect.

3 Dusty storage room filled with crates, bags, boxes and some old furniture. – The stage set, which does not change for the entire play, is set ‘in recent times’ (‘Characters’), though the audience will obviously assume initially that it is contemporary with the Eva and Helga characters whose milieu is the period immediately before the Second World War. This dichotomy will be explored later in the play when it becomes clear that the storage room represents Evelyn’s forgotten (and suppressed) memories of her childhood. In a sense, Eva and Helga can be seen here as playing out hidden recollections in Evelyn’s subconscious mind.

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Purchase full notes for £4.95 (aprox $7.72)

Diane Samuels