‘They’re just children, aren’t they? Just children.’
Any story that involves the Holocaust is likely to be harrowing, yet amidst all of the sorrow are tales of bravery, determination and love: the risks people took to speak out against the Nazi regime; those who saved countless people… but all too often forgotten are the ordinary people who suffered.
Stephen Unwin‘s story looks at euthanasia and the many disabled children and young adults who were sent to their death ‘for the greater good’. Under the pretence of a hospital or care home, children were sent away from home to be looked after. Their families would then be told that their child had died of natural causes or complications as a result of their disability.
Victor (Colin Tierney) is a paediatrician, working in the clinic he set up to help disabled children. Since the Nazis came to power however, the clinic has become a place where children come before they are sent to their deaths. Initially, as we listen to the Herr Doktor interact with his maid Martha (Rebecca Johnson), we are drawn to him, but as we learn more we are shocked and appalled by his straightforward, almost casual manner of approving which children are to be sent to die.
However, our feelings towards the older man fade into insignificance by the true
abhorrence we feel for his assistant Eric (Edward Franklin), a young Nazi who cares nothing for those deemed ‘inferior’, nor those who are true Aryans including Martha’s daughter who may be pregnant with his child.
The excellent characterisations in this production are heightened by the small cast and the fact that most of the action involves just two actors in an intense, uncomfortable conversation. The actors are all very believable and really express the different emotions and opinions of the time. Throughout the story each actor’s emotions change constantly as they discover more; this causes the audience to feel confused by a person’s conception of right and wrong and question our own morals, actions and understanding.
Although the subject is harrowing, All Our Children is a poignant look at some of the Holocaust victims who are perhaps less documented; however, it remains a stark reminder of just how many people were affected by the Nazi regime.
Reviewed by Michaela Clement-Hayes