Just Festival @ St John’s (Venue 127), Edinburgh: 3/4, 6/7, 10/11 Aug 2018.
Guest reviewer: Sarah Moyes
Strange Town Theatre Company take us to a war-town Warsaw in Steve Small’s raw and powerful staging of David Greig’s Dr Korczak’s Example.
Set in 1942 against the backdrop of a bleak and war-hit Poland, the play follows the final desperate few days of Korczak’s orphanage in Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto where food is scarce, and 350,000 Jews are crammed into just a few streets. Despite being offered the chance of sanctuary, Dr Korczak refuses to abandon the children in his care.
Fraser Dodds gives a strong performance as the selfless doctor who cares for his children like no one else does with his trusty assistant Stephanie, a sensible and sweet-natured young girl played by Lianne Harris who gives a promising performance in her professional stage debut.
The stand-out performance comes from Fraser MacRae who is truly captivating as the wild and street-wise Adzio, a character Fraser seems to completely immerse himself in as he takes charge of the space around him.
The relationship between Stephanie and Adzio, who she also calls Fly, takes centre stage around the miserable backdrop of the war. Despite the characters being completely different, it’s a delight to watch their relationship grow as Adzio lets his guard down with Stephanie who stops being so practical about everything.
The story is cleverly narrated by Nicola Milazzo’s faceless puppets, manipulated by the cast, that add another dimension to the story as they act out some of the play’s important scenes.
There are some moments however, where the pace is a little slow and you can’t help but will for more to be happening. That said, the production powerful ending draws the audience back as we learn the fate of the doctor and his orphans.
While the story of Stephanie and Adzio may be fictional, they represent the lives of many young people during that time. Today, the legacy of Dr Korczak lives on as his writings on the rights of children form the basis for the United Nations’ Rights of the Child.
This might be a scenario that took place over 70 years ago, but it’s surprisingly how much the situation from 1942 rings true with the refugee crisis which seems to grow more around the world each day.
Dr Korczak’s Example is without a doubt an important part of our history, and this poignant production serves to remind us how children all over the world should be treated.
Running time – 1 hour 15 minutes (no interval)
Just Festival @ St. John’s Church, Princes Street EH2 4BJ (Fringe venue 127)
Friday 3/Saturday 4, Monday 6/Tuesday 7, Friday 10/Saturday 11 August 2018.
Evenings: 7.15pm; Extra performance Tue 7: 9.15pm.
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dr-korczak-s-example
Strangetown website: www.strangetown.org.uk
In September 2018 Dr Korczak’s Example will be touring schools around Edinburgh.