Abyss of the Ages

Kindertransport sends insights on historical suffering

As powerful as this play is, it has problems. Scenes between little Eva and Helga, and between little Eva and Lil, are more finished than those between Evelyn and Faith. And though Cooper's Evelyn has some quality lines, among the most deeply moving moments of the play, present-day scenes are flawed in many places, due in part to the writing. Samuels wants to demonstrate that the past creates the present and that we are all victims of what has come before, that history is inescapable. But this is not completely realized in the analogy she creates between the two mothers and daughters. And the potentially fine ending is marred by the weakness of this analogy.

Even with its problems, however, the production is riveting. Deborah Kinghorn's direction is smart and even ballet-like in the lyrical moments when the present embraces the past. Glazer's rough, tough Lil is perfect as the working-class Brit who means well even as she helps her foster daughter destroy her familial legacy. Forster, Mays and Cooper create the kind of complex characters that make live theater so deeply enriching. And Johnson, who takes on the four small male roles, makes each a discrete presence in the play.

Technical aspects of this production are lovely. David Gipson's dark and lonely lighting along with Douglas Robertson's chilling audiotape add the sort of richness to this theatrical experience that can only be dreamed of by most designers.

Nazi Germany shattered millions of lives in the '30s and '40s. History, though, is a hungry hunter. Nobody can get past it. Kindertransport explores the way in which monumental tragedy reverberates throughout time, throughout the present, throughout the diminutive lives of ordinary people who must struggle to make sense of it.

Kindertransport runs through March 28 at Stages, 3201 Allen Parkway, (713)52-

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