The cast engaged in the 'impressive and slick choreography'Jemima Langdon

Content Note: Discussion of Nazi occupation and genocide

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, the regime spread propaganda blaming Jews for the spread of typhus in Warsaw, claiming that the Jewish population would need to be quarantined in the interests of public health. This led to the formation of the Warsaw Ghetto, a tiny area of the city in which almost 500,000 Jews were imprisoned. The Ghetto was destroyed following an uprising in 1943, but the work of a group of Jewish intellectuals led by Emanuel Ringelblum means that an archive detailing the lives and experiences of the people crammed into the Ghetto exists to this day.

It is this archive that inspired director Josh Baumring-Gledhill and the ensemble cast of Not Even the Dogs to devise the original show. It primarily follows Ringelblum as he is faced with the difficult decision between fleeing Warsaw and staying to document the atrocities of the Nazi regime, in what he considered the last will and testament of the Jewish people. I left the Corpus Playroom thoroughly impressed with this deeply imaginative, slick and polished show. There was not a single wasted moment or scene where the audience was not utterly captivated by the story, which was narrated by Saul Barrett as Ringelblum with frequent interspersions of direct address. According to the show’s synopsis, it seeks to tell a story of the lives of the people of the Warsaw Ghetto, rather than about their deaths - and it was successful in doing so, with small episodes of joy and love interspersed with dark moments reflecting on the grim reality and difficult choices of life for Jews under Nazi oppression.

"There was not a single wasted moment"

The episodic nature of the show, and the ensemble cast, meant that every single actor had to be able to demonstrate an impressive range of characters, moods and energy levels: multi-roling as loud street hawks one moment, and timid children the netx. Dominika Wiatrowska was particularly impressive, playing a uncannily realistic little boy (Ringelblum’s son, Uri) as well as a whole host of other characters. The ensemble had excellent chemistry and moved as one, it was clear that they have been working together closely on this project throughout. This did mean that individual performances felt ever so slightly unnatural and less effective when isolated from the collective. In saying this, however, every actor shone at various point, there was no weak leak in this talented group, and each one of them remained on stage for the entire duration of the show (itself a feat of endurance).  Baumring-Gledhill was consequently unable to fall back on entrances and exits to mark scene changes, instead making use of coordinated, heavy breaths, lighting and strong changes in characterisation from the actors to mark the beginning and end of each episode. This worked to great effect, and the audience was left in no doubt as to when one episode concluded.

"The show managed to find joy and hope in its subject matter without coming off as glib"

While devising a coherent, fully engaging and high-quality piece of theatre is a difficult task in and of itself, the team behind Not Even the Dogs also incorporated some impressive and slick choreography. This was orchestrated by Wiatrowska, also working as the show's movement director, and even included a song and dance sequence which made it all the more engaging and professional. An equally impressive feat was the way the show managed to find joy and hope in its subject matter without coming off as glib. It did so both in its scenes depicting life in the Ghetto and in its final monologue set in 1946, where Rachel Auerbach (played by Katya Stylianou) celebrates both the success of Ringelblum’s archive in securing a legacy for those who were lost, and the endurance and survival of their people, who outlasted a regime that sought to wipe them out


Mountain View

Previewing The Student Union

Not Even the Dogs requires you to remain consistently engaged, but the poignant and emotional journey make it so very worthwhile. It was so well written and performed that the time flew by, therefore proving itself to be rare case of a show that wasn’t too long! I would absolutely recommend this deeply thoughtful, necessary and well-devised show to anyone and everyone - you won’t be disappointed.

Not Even the Dogs is running at the Corpus Playroom at 9.30pm until the 19th of March