Moving from a place that you have grown up in for years can be one of the most difficult experiences you’ll have to face. It’s one thing moving house, city or country due to seeking a change from the environment around you, however it’s another thing if the social and political climate you once deemed as being safe has now given you no choice but to flee. Welcome to Pipeline Theatre‘s Transports, a timely piece shedding a subtle light on the impact of immigration on those who have been forced to leave their previous lives behind.
With the European migrant crisis dominating all media outlets, this serves as a constant reminder as to how war can destruct and displace. In the UK, we are often presented with these images, yet are able to switch off or turn over the page. However, for thousands of individuals, their constant reality to seek a ‘home’ is a harsh one. Transports elaborates on the theme of displacement, depicting the lives of 4 women amidst the devastating backdrop of World War II. This topic already brings an air of immediacy to the audience due to its significance and doesn’t preach about the political context surrounding it. Rather, it picks out the lives of those who may often just go under the radar and remain unseen and unveils an alternate pattern to a seemingly already known about tapestry.
Juliet Welch beams as Lotte, a caring soul who wants nothing but happiness for Dinah, played by Hannah Stephens, a teenage rebel battling many demons. Born in Germany and made to flee to the UK due to the notorious Nazi regime, Lotte symbolises a strength you only acquire if ever you find yourself in such a life altering situation. The relationship presented to us by Welch and Stephens is unconventional, it’s frustrating, it’s hostile, it’s endearing as we witness two strong female characters try and make sense of their current situation.
Jon Welch directs an often clever piece of work in regards to the seamless transitions from the UK in the 60s to the 40s, when a younger Lotte, played by Stephens and Mrs Weston played by Welch is made to leave her home in Germany to seek solace in the UK. It’s beautiful to witness the parallels between both relationships as the audience witness history repeating itself. It’s as if Lotte is making up for a childhood without her parents by fostering in her later life.
The evening however feels longer than it should be. Scenes often feel repetitive, and although there are high stakes in terms of the political landscape around them and in Dinah wanting to find her birth mother, I’m left not feeling as distraught as I know I should be. Conversations should move the evening forward however they don’t. Poetic speeches delivered by Stephen’s Dinah engage. This manner of performing speech offers a welcoming contrast to her interactions with her foster mother.
The evening is made poignant by the reading of a poem written by Leisl Munden, in which Transports is inspired by. Munden reads her own poetry, a piece of verbatim that subtly adds a political depth. 3.5/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Transports was shown at the Pleasance Theatre from Tuesday 1st until Saturday 12th March, but is currently on tour. For more information on tour dates, visit here…