Theatre at its best stirs the emotions, tugs at the heart strings, and leaves an audience mentally challenged and enriched. Theatre can be engaging and only hit a few of these things but all too rarely you see a play that shakes your very core. Five is one such play.
As we reach the 66th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz it’s more important than ever we remember the atrocities that took place there. As time takes the first hand witnesses, work such as this plays a vital role in ensuring that the same horrors can never be allowed to happen again.
Lorena Cenci’s new play looks at five former women prisoners of the infamous death camp. Each has her own story to tell but, given the horrors they have witnessed, there is a surprising amount of hope.
Tales of love, loyalty, survival and music permeate the horror but, for every slight glimmer of light, there is the feeling of betrayal, hurt and despair.
Encouraged to share their experiences by a narrator, slowly the women show they share a common bond enforced by their mutual experience and how their time in the camp has shaped their future or dashed their dreams.
Staged with effective use of archive images, evocative lighting, and well integrated music. this one act play flows with cinematic clarity. Co-directors Helen Wheatley and Cenci herself allow the horrors of events to speak for themselves without turning them into melodrama.
To pull off such challenging material requires total commitment from the cast and there is not one weak link in the company. Colin Lee Bennett, Molly Scurrell, Sheila Garnham, Hattie Bennett, Jane Cole and Sally-ann Scurrell all give exceptionally strong performances, instilling each of their characters with a quiet dignity regardless of the degradation they have been subjected to.
Five is a story that must be told, and the horrors of the Holocaust need to be remembered. This production will enable generations to come to listen, learn and understand what happened in Auschwitz and the other death camps.
It may be painful and emotionally draining but it is also essential viewing.