Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Yaphank New York’

I knew nothing of the existence of Nazi camps for children of German extraction in pre-war USA. Even now, the thought is chilling. Bess Wohl’s play presents us with one such place, in Yaphank New York, seen through the eyes of two teenagers who meet there, just referred to as Him and Her.

He seems to have been a convert before he even arrived, revelling in his heritage, in admiration of what the National Socialists are doing in Germany. She’s been dragged there, and is much more ambivalent about it all, though she appears to make a journey of discovery and conversion, ending up making the major speech at the closing rally.

We follow their personal relationship as well as the camp journey. They buy into the need to reproduce for the fatherland, he considers going there to work or fight for the homeland, but there are more parochial preoccupations too, involving their fellow campmates and their friends and relatives.

In effect, we are seeing how young people can be drawn in to idealised concepts and causes, despite their incompatibility with the principles of the land of freedom and opportunity that they have been brought up to value. There’s a tension between the two, and a tension between Him and Her.

Though it’s an intimate play for such a big stage, it didn’t get as lost at the Old Vic as I thought it might, perhaps because they play almost exclusively at the front of the stage, before an impressionistic forest, or perhaps because of the power of the characterisations and the performances, or indeed both.

Patsy Ferran and Luke Thallon are both terrific, playing totally believable 16 and 17-year-olds respectively. Ferran has the biggest transformation, but Thallon has more of an emotional roller-coaster ride. For me, these performances are reason alone for seeing the play.

Brave programming for the Old Vic which may not come off commercially, but does so artistically.

Read Full Post »