Welcome to Terezin. The Gilded Balloon. Julia Pascal.

 

Many have heard of Auschwitz and Dachau but few know about Terezin close to Prague which housed an elite of European Jewish artists, musicians and writers.  It was used by the Nazis as a holding station for Jews en route to the gas chambers.  Terezin is famous as a hoax camp.  The Red Cross came to inspect it and the Nazis forced the Jews to put on a show to pretend that they were being well treated.  The famous lie is one of the cruellest moments in the history of the Shoah when Hitler’s victims were forced to help the Nazis hide the truth of their persecution.  When the Red Cross left, most of those who had performed opera, cabaret and film, were murdered.

The Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre has made a performance work about this historical deception and the ensemble perform with huge engagement.  It is touching to see the company’s attempt to grapple with this difficult territory.  Inexperienced teenagers are required to perform adult artists who were at the top of their profession.  The ambition is laudable but, as this is a youth theatre composed of the untrained, there is a gap between the dramatic demands and theatrical realisation.  However the sum of the parts makes for a poignant experience which commemorates a terrible loss of human life that deserves to be remembered.

Julia Pascal © 2014.