The Lucky Ones
The fortunate protagonists in Charlotte Eilenberg's impressive debut play are those who escaped the cataclysmic horrors of the Holocaust, brought over to England courtesy of the Kindertransport, shortly before the outbreak of war. Set at the comfortable North London home of Anna & Bruno Mosenthal and spanning thirty years in a series of flashback scenes, Eilenberg has woven a tightly knit, compelling drama that benefits greatly from the inspired casting of Anton Lesser and Margot Leicester - two actors of rare ability - as brother and sister Leo and Anna.
As the play opens, it is 1968 and a stranger, Lisa Pendry, is visiting the Mosenthal's home, intent on buying Leo's cottage in the country. Passionate and outspoken, stubbornly submissive to his demanding elderly father, Leo poses a strange request: he will only accept her offer on the condition that she, a German whose father was a thriving property developer during World War Two, apologise on behalf of all those who profited from Jewish dispossession. Outraged, Lisa leaves abruptly; this is the pivotal moment triggering an exploration of the themes which recur throughout the rest of the play: the legacy left by the war, the complicated nature of parent-child relationships and the way one generation can profoundly influence another.
There are moments that occasionally jar and greater conviction is certainly needed from the Mosenthal children Daniel and Beth (James Clyde and Miranda Foster), but overall Eilenberg's fluent, perceptive script and luminous performances from Lesser & Leicester under the capable direction of Matthew Lloyd provide enough dynamism to hold one immersed in an intelligent, thought-provoking play of real substance.