Love London Love Culture’s Emily Schofield paid a visit to the Park Theatre to catch Kate Fahy’s production.
I sat for a long time trying to work out what to write for this review after I came away from the Park Theatre. It’s not very often that I feel completely lost for words after a show. However, after seeing Rosenbaum’s Rescue, I really struggled to communicate how I felt about this play.
I have had an interest into the history of Nazi occupation for years, so when I heard that a play detailing a huge rescue mission of 7,500 Jews escaping from occupied Denmark was coming to the Park Theatre I was very intrigued.
My gut reaction was that this show would have been much better explained if it had been a film adaptation rather than on the stage. The show felt very small, which ordinarily would suit a venue like the Park Theatre. However the stillness of the production sometimes made it feel quite stagnant and difficult to connect with at times.
It should be said, however that the acting performances were faultless, with strong and powerful deliveries given by all four actors. All of the cast had very believable tensions and chemistry and they told the story superbly. However, it felt like these wonderful performances got slightly lost on what felt like an overly decorated stage at times. I even found that some of the set was obscuring my view of the actors’ performances – namely a very poorly placed lampshade, which was incredibly frustrating when I wanted to desperately connect with what was taking place in front of me.
One of the biggest issues with the performance was that it felt like the actual depth of the story wasn’t onstage. Everything was being told through conversation. This doesn’t always bother me within theatre, and can be a very useful tool in order to deliver exposition to your audience, however the majority of the show felt like that. It was a little frustrating as this made the show drag and lull in a few places which really wasn’t needed. It would have been better to somehow see the past unfold in front of us as an audience – whether through the addition of another character or some kind of flashback. The show felt stuck in its location of Abraham and Sara’s home and I kept willing to move on but it never did. This is a shame as the concept of the show is perfect but the execution just needed refining a little bit in order to make it as engaging and powerful as it deserves to be.
However it should be noted that there were some very positive aspects of the production too. The humour in the script was very witty and suited the sometimes rather tense scenes very well, creating light comic relief effortlessly. I also loved the ever-evolving friendship turned hatred between Abraham (David Bamber) and Lars (Neil McCaul), which was both entertaining as well as full of a lot of dramatic moments throughout.
Overall, my take from this production is that it has an excellent foundation in its performances and writing but it needs refining, and possibly another method of exposition in order to freshen it up a little. However I did enjoy the evening and the acting alone made it a worthwhile experience.
By Emily Schofield
Rosenbaum’s Rescue continues to play at the Park Theatre until the 9th February.