"A harrowing, yet important message."
by Ruth O'Reilly for remotegoat on 26/06/09

"We must tell the truth to everyone, even the mothers" and what an awful truth it is. This is not easy to watch (nor is it, I'm sure, easy to perform), but Natasha Pryce directs a strong ensemble that does justice to Charlotte Delbo's heart-wrenching play.

Set in Auschwitz in 1943, 'Who will carry the word?' is the story of 15 women's emotional and physical journey and their fight to survive so that the world can know the truth. Based on her personal experience, Delbo's play was written for that very purpose and it is no surprise that this production goes hand in hand with charity REDRESS. There is a clear message, lives should not be lost for nothing, and the story of all suffering needs to be heard so that we may eventually stop it.

Beautifully evocative music from composer Sarah Lllewellyn draws us into the tragedy and keeps us there without tugging overly hard on the heart strings, while the simple set proves effective and versatile. When it comes to the cast this is very much an ensemble piece, each character telling their story in their own way, yet one that particularly caught my eye was Pinar Ogun's 'Yvonne'. Yvonne's slow death, pride and humanity are portrayed so poignantly, it's almost too much to bear. A brief moment featuring the new arrival 'Marie' also stands out for its effectiveness as Sonia Balaco is terrifyingly real as the 16 year who has just watched her family being dragged off to the gas chamber.

But as I said this is an ensemble piece, with a strong cast that delivers the message with grace and intelligence. Under the guidance of Pryce (whose decision to use set choreography to depict cold and pain is to be praised) the result is an engrossing play, that may not make you feel good about the world we live in, but sends a message straight to the heart which you will not easily forget.

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