'Children Nowadays Are Very Lucky'
A review of Lotte's War, at the Tabard Theatre
"Children nowadays are very lucky" writes one and "you had to be strong and courageous to get through hard times" says another.
The cast of three wove a seamless story, dipping in and out of marvellous characters; from the harsh virol-administering nurse (suspected of espionage!) to the adored father in the RAF, who grapples with conveying terms such as war, nazis and blimps to his 4 year old daughter. The word 'evacuee' resonates in the theatre, as the play unravels and reveals a child's wartime experiences told beautifully, humorously and poignantly; scenes of sweet shop queueing in times of rationing, sheltering in murky caves and classroom capers between digging for victory.
The clever unfurling of the play is largely due to the very talented performers who, as if in a relaxed, graceful dance, effortlessly slip in and out of roles, maintaining integrity, humour and pathos.
Making no attempts to overdramatise or sentimentalise, this beautiful story feels natural and honest because it is largely told through children's' voices and seen through children's eyes. It is even more moving when, after the applause, the child at the centre of the story, 82 year-old Lotte stands, gives a few words, smiles and waves. This story is not imagined but real.
Not only had my pupils witnessed a masterclass in character portrayal, but they had also been completed riveted throughout a very creative and comprehensive history lesson. Perhaps most importantly though, my pupils had a real sense of 'Lotte's War'; busy children from a social-media and technology-driven world were afforded the precious opportunity to reflect, evaluate and really understand and appreciate a very different experience of childhood bravery.
Head of English
March 31, 2018