Deben Players bring true wartime tale to Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge

Deben Players present Kindertransport at Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, from September 7-10

Deben Players present Kindertransport at Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, from September 7-10 - Credit: Archant

Nine-year-old Eva sits waiting for the train that’ll carry her to her new life, free from the shadow cast by Nazi Germany. One of thousands of Jewish girls and boys forced to flee to fresh shores, the play Kindertransport is as relevant now as it was during the Second World War.

Deben Players present Kindertransport at Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, from September 7-10

Deben Players present Kindertransport at Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, from September 7-10 - Credit: Archant

“Absolutely, with the current refugee crisis it’s very similar. The committee certainly felt it made the story very current and something people would be able to relate to even if they didn’t live through it then,” says Richard Daly, directing Deben Players’ upcoming production.

The story was one of three suggested by his daughter, Hannah, who’s serving as assistant director.

The society is better known for making audiences laugh with its pantomimes and farces like Deadwood Dick. Although it has explored its serious side with stuff such as Roses of Eyam, Daughters of Venice, The Memory of Water...

“As a society we don’t have any sponsors so we rely on a good panto, a comfortable May show and then we can afford to take a risk in September, try something new, something different. Hannah’s been an inspiration for me throughout all of this. I thought all three were brilliant plays. I suggested them all to the committee and this was the one they went for,” adds Richard, who was the assistant director of Noises Off earlier this year and worked on ‘Allo ‘Allo.


You may also want to watch:


Kindertransport - meaning children’s transport - was the informal name of a series of rescue efforts which brought thousands of refugee Jewish children to Great Britain between 1938 and 1940. The trigger for the operation was the terrible violence of the night of November 9, 1938, known as Kristanlnact. Nazis in Germany torched synagogues, vandalized Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killed close to 100 Jewish people.

The British Parliament passed a new law allowing minors to travel on their own. The first party of nearly 200 children arrived in Harwich, with nearly 10,000 more entering the UK over the next nine months.

Most Read

Flashing backward and forward in time, the play focuses on Eva, put on a train by her mother in Hamburg, who travels to this country alone to meet her new stepmother.

“It explores the relationships between mothers and daughters in the 1940s and then in the 1980s, how incidents that date from childhood can affect you as a grown-up. So, yes, it’s about the kindertransport. Yes, it’s about a little child being evacuated from Germany but it explores many other avenues apart from that,” says Richard.

Deben Players present Kindertransport at Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, from September 7-10

Deben Players present Kindertransport at Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, from September 7-10 - Credit: Archant

“It’s a very evocative story. When you consider the UK as a country took 10,0000 refugee children and obviously many of them are still living in the UK today, some of them were repatriated when their families got out of Germany and went to places like America. This picks on one little child and tells her story, where she is, her fears from when she was a child.

“A big theme in the show is from her childhood. She’s read a story called Der Rattenfänger, which is a ratcatcher which we know as the Pied Piper. Everybody who’s effectively a danger to her, she sees as the ratcatcher and that’s how it explores that...”

Set in one place, decorated as a store room, it’s basically split in two with everything happening on the left in the 1940s and everything happening on the right side in the 1980s.

The cast comprises Eva Balding as Eva aged nine with Saffron Clements playing her at 15, Debbie Osborne as Evelyn, Charlotte Gedny as Faith, Olivia France as Helga, Cathy May as Lil and Andy Kimber as the Ratcatcher and other assorted male characters. They’ve been rehearsing for the last three months.

Deben Players present Kindertransport at Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, from September 7-10

Deben Players present Kindertransport at Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, from September 7-10 - Credit: Archant

Hannah and Richard sat down and talked about how to bring it to life before they even started casting. knowing they wanted it pretty minimal, just lighting and sound.

“The only real challenge when we were casting was Eva grows from nine to 15 years old throughout the play. It was whether we cast one child to play both or cast two and we’ve ended up with two. They’re both very, very good. Eva, who plays the young Eva, really stepped up to the part. She didn’t know any German, couldn’t play the harmonica and here we are three months later and she can speak all the German lines almost fluently and can play the harmonica,” says Richard.

The play, by Diane Samuels, is on the A-level English syllabus so is ideal for school groups too. It runs at Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, September 7-10.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter