LOTTE’S JOUR­NEY

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS -

New End Lon­don NW3

FOR AN op­ti­mistic mo­ment I thought that Ni­non Jerome’s pro­duc­tion would do for Can­dida Cave’s bi­o­graph­i­cal play what the Me­nier re­cently did for Sond­heim’s Sun­day in the Park With Ge­orge.

Cave’s sub­ject is the Ger­man/ Jewish artist Char­lotte Salomon who pro­duced a se­ries of del­i­cate and haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful gouache draw­ings be­fore she died at 26.

One of the pic­tures is of a birch tree, the Ger­man trans­la­tion of which por­tends Salomon’s death at Auschwitz Birke­nau in 1943. Salomon’s artis­tic achieve­ment was to chart her life through a se­ries of over 700 works en­ti­tled Life? Or Theatre?

In her art, Salomon re­flected the sui­ci­dal urges she in­her­ited from her mother’s side of the fam­ily; the ro­man­tic in­fat­u­a­tion with mu­si­cian Amadeus Daber­lohn and her en­coun­ters with the ris­ing Nazi tide.

To tell this story, Cave’s play switches be­tween flash­back and the cat­tle truck which trans­ported Salomon — played with in­ten­sity by Selina Chilton — to her death.

The prob­lem with an­chor­ing a drama in an Auschwitz-bound cat­tle truck is that in or­der to make the play watch­able you end up de­lib­er­ately fail­ing to de­pict the squalor. Shar­ing this rather clean and roomy truck are Lotte’s fel­low pas­sen­gers — her hus­band, an el­derly cou­ple, a widow and a gen­tile jour­nal­ist.

OK, so we can use our imag­i­na­tion for trav­el­ling con­di­tions. But more tellingly, drama is not the au­to­matic re­sult of tragedy, and Cave re­lies too heav­ily on the re­sult of tragic cir­cum­stances of Salomon’s short life and bru­tal death to sus­tain her play.

There is also a lost op­por­tu­nity pro­vided by Lotte Col­lett’s set, two thirds of which is a white blank stage which could have been used to project Salomon’s paint­ings but is, in­stead, a de­sign void.

Still, there are some good per­for­mances here and Salomon is a fas­ci­nat­ing sub­ject. I just wish the pro­duc­tion was less con­ven­tional and more creative, rather like Salomon. (Tel: 0870 033 2733)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.