Taking on a play about the Holocaust is no easy task, so The Theatre School of Tunbridge Wells in Kent is to be commended for its artistic endeavour in tackling Joshua Sobol's controversial drama.
The group of 15-to-18-year-olds spent a week of intensive rehearsals learning the pared-down script about the unlikely rise of a theatre in the Jewish ghetto of Vilna, Lithuania, in 1942, as the Nazis began their policy of mass extermination. The play was chosen by school director Colin Armour whose interest had been piqued by his experiences working on a Jewish camp in America and by seeing a colleague perform in a production of "Ghetto".
Translating that commitment into a convincing performance is another thing, however, and some may contend that even after six weeks or six months it would be hard to inhabit the mind of Jacob Gens, the Nazi-appointed head of the ghetto's Jewish Council, played by Charlotte Wood, who saw the establishment of the theatre as a life-saving mission; or that of the sadistic art-loving SS officer Kittel (Georgie Abbs), who was in charge of the ghetto.
Among the 15-strong cast, Rosie Gaston, 17, gives a sparkling performance as the subversive dummy of the puppeteer Srulik, played by Tatum O'Leary.