Theatre Review - THE WHITE FACTORY

The White Factory[Marc Senior]

INSPIRED  by real events, Dmitry Glukhovsky’s devastating play The White Factory follows the life of lawyer Yosef Kaufman (Mark Quartley), a Holocaust survivor, and his family.

It’s mainly set in the Lodz Ghetto in the early 1940s. Unlike Warsaw, Lodz became a manufacturing hub, producing various supplies for the German Reich and Wehmarcht.

Jewish elder Chaim Rumkowski (Adrian Schiller) was in charge of Ghetto’s inhabitants and had to select those for deportation to nearby Chelmno and Auschwitz on the orders of the tyrannical SS commander Wilhelm Koppe (James Garnon).

In a bid to save themselves and their two children from certain death, the Kaufmans accept work (and favour) from Rumkowski – Rivka (Pearl Chanda) toils in the eponymous factory, stuffing the fluff from the pillows of the deported into new pillowcases to be sent to German homes. Yosef joins the Jewish police.

Rumkowski died in Auschwitz. At the end of the war, Koppe returned to his home city of Bonn. He was briefly arrested in 1960, but released due to “ill-health”. Meanwhile, the fictional Yosef Kaufmann, one of the few survivors of the ghetto, wrestles with his inner demons as he tries to build a future with his new family in Brooklyn.

This is a stunning collaboration between acclaimed Russian writer Glukhovsky and theatre director Maxim Didenko; both political exiles and outspoken critics of the war against Ukraine.

Didenko’s visually striking production is played out on Galya Solodovnikova’s white set. The use of video brings the horror into sharp relief, while on stage feathers become black ashes.

Beautifully acted, it’s sometimes unbearable to watch, but go. This stark, brilliant production is unmissable.

Until November 4

Originally published by Camden New Journal