Review: Out of the East End

Whenever I see that Mike Rouse or Viva Youth are associated with an event I know it is going to be good and I was not disappointed with the production of ‘Out of the East End’ that took place in the Countess of Free Church Ely last Sunday night.

The script, a true story of the evacuation of London Jews’ Free School and the Central Foundation Girls’ School of Ely during the Second World War, was written by the well known local historian and writer Mike Rouse and brought home exactly what it must have been like in those dark days in Ely. It was interesting to note that the Countess of Huntingdon Church had been used as a synagogue for the Jewish evacuees at the time – hence this choice of venue.

Mikey Kowalczyk directed the show and the antics of the children, so realistic and entertaining, were particularly well choreographed and acted by the young talent.  The cast created viable characters and the storyline always clear and effective. Among the cast were a number of high profile locals including David Tickner (Head of Drama at Soham Village College) and his primary teacher wife, Delia. Lawrence Whitworth, now almost a regular on local stages gave a particularly entertaining performance with his antics as a young refugee as did the remainder of the actors and actresses.   The rest of the cast included Sarah Boor, Hayley Craig, Olivia Fahy, Esther Hiller, Isabella Minns, Andy O’Hanlon, Emily Palmer, Cassie Rouse and Rebecca Storey.

The script was packed with detail, interesting facts and reflections of the emotions aroused at the time. A real live air raid siren, the children’s leather cases and gas masks (with inevitable skits ensuing), Anderson shelters, a gas rattle

Accompanied by James Fletcher on piano, a number of familiar songs from the time were featured including ‘There’ll always be an England’, ‘Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye’, ‘Run Rabbit…’, and ’Pack up your Troubles’, to name but a few.

This was indeed a most successful and ambitious project.

Rosemary Westwell

 

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