By Craig Silver
November 28, 2008
I have to express my disappointment at the news that the Imagine This musical in Drury Lane is set to close.
The final showing will be on December 20, and I believe it is a shame that the show hasn’t been given a chance.
People can judge it in the way they want. I myself was not too keen on the concept behind it and did have reservations about it. But after reading the drubbing that it got from the critics, I wanted to see it for myself.
Honestly, I don’t know what these critics were talking about. No one can fault the nobility of intention behind Shuki Levy’s and David Goldsmith's work.
Yes, it is a very difficult subject. I mean, it’s hardly everyone’s cup of tea to see a musical set in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942 with the Nazis’ massacre of Jews as the background.
But the way the story is told is powerful and moving. I was one of the many people at the end of the performance who gave the cast a standing ovation. It was clear that the audience got pulled emotionally into the story and admired the beautiful singing which was matched by the heart shown by the characters.
As the show begins, you feel as if you have been thrown into a time machine and deposited in 1942 as the Jews are captured and taken into the Ghetto and forced to work for the Nazis. Yet as the play goes on, you find that it’s not exactly a musical about the Holocaust.
Rather it shows the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943, an unbelievably heroic episode of civilian armed resistance against the Nazis, with the shadow of the Holocaust hanging darkly in the background.
Daniel Warshowsky, who helps lead a small group in the ghetto to produce a play on the fall of Masada, is beautifully played by Peter Polycarpou. I also have to single out Leila Benn Harris as Daniel’s daughter Rebecca, who sings with great talent and passion.
What I saw on the stage is another example of how we should continuously remind people of what happened. I take the quote from Jerry Springer who said in his BBC documentary ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ “This is something that did not happen in 20BC, it was just 60 years ago and is something we should always remember and teach.”
I believe it is massively important to take schools to see this show so they can understand the history, something that you can not always get from being Holocaust lessons in a classroom.