Teatron Theater / Figuren Theater Tubingen, Children of the Beast

Review in Issue 14-4 | Winter 2002

An Israel/German collaboration, this production (based on David Grossman's novel See Under Love) is an exploration of the impact of Holocaust survivors' testimonials on the children of survivors. Through a multiplicity of narrative voices it explores the relationship between memory, truth and fiction: Momik, the nine-year-old son of survivors; his father; his grandfather; and the adult Momik, who as a writer revisits his own childhood and also seeks out documentation of the Holocaust. A central idea around which all else revolves is of the grandfather as a Scheherezade figure who tells stories to survive (although his original bargain with the Nazi interrogator is a story in exchange for a clean death – a bullet through the head).

It ultimately holds a message of love and hope, as witnessed in the determined survival strategies of the death camp inhabitants and in the resilience to the terror of the small child hearing the hushed references (‘what sort of creature might the Nazi Beast be and where might it be hiding?').

In the re-creation of his family's history Momik is constantly aware that the art of memoir writing is, in the words of William Zinnser, to ‘invent the truth'. The 'invention’ strategy of this production is to place two brilliant artists – actor and puppeteer – together to tell the many interweaving stories using dialogue, storytelling, physical action, and some of the most skilled puppetry and object manipulation one is likely to see anywhere – dark shadows on screens; ghostly figures rising falling, transforming from the swathes of white cloth lying on the floor.

Children of the Beast is that rare and wonderful thing: an exploration of the darkest forces in human nature that leaves the spectator shaken and stirred but not drained and despairing.

Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2002

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-4
p. 24