Review: Rosenbaum’s Rescue *****

Review: Rosenbaum’s Rescue *****

Ivor Baddiel watched a play about a historical mystery about the escape of 8,000 Danish Jews to Sweden

Rosenbaum's Rescue explores the story of a tip-off from a high-ranking Nazi official that may well have led to saving the lives of  7,000 Danish Jews
Rosenbaum's Rescue explores the story of a tip-off from a high-ranking Nazi official that may well have led to saving the lives of 7,000 Danish Jews

There’s a lot of ground covered by Rosenbaum’s Rescue – miracles, religion versus science, love, family, friendship, deception, immigration, identity and at its heart a genuine historical mystery that remains unsolved to this day; how did almost 8,000 Danish Jews escape to Sweden in 1943, seemingly right under the noses of the occupying Nazis?

Some, such as Abraham (played by David Bamber,) a religious man, believe G-d intervened, while his friend Lars (Neil McCaul), a historian and man of science, believe there may well be a more straightforward explanation.

This conflict between the two men is at the heart of the play, which takes place in Abraham and his wife, Sara’s (Julia Swift) Denmark home, the night Lars and his daughter Eva (Dorothea Myer-Bennett) pay them a visit.

It also happens to be the sixth night of Chanukah, an intriguing and surely not coincidental reference as I’ve recently found out that there is some doubt as to whether the miracle of Chanukah actually happened. (There’s my childhood gone, it feels a bit like how a Christian child might feel if Santa Claus’s existence was ever doubted. Don’t worry all you non-Jewish children reading this, he does.)

The weather, and in particular, snow, play a big part in proceedings, trapping the occupants in the property overnight and in to the next day during which time the historical conflict builds to its crescendo and inter-family/friend revelations aplenty reveal themselves, making for a charged and emotional atmosphere, all wrapped in a comfort blanket of a lot of laughs, and big ones as well, the play is properly funny.

Folle Bodin was a tailor and the grandfather of playwright Alexander Bodin Saphir

I caught up with the writer, Alexander Bodin Saphir afterwards, who, in a slight reversal of the traditional Jewish mother role, was extremely proud of the lavish, Danish themed spread his Jewish mother had laid on – the open sandwiches,  smørrebrød, were delicious, the Danish liquor type thing, Gammel Dansk, was less to my liking.

It also turns out that the story is very much his family story and one of the most important moments, when a high ranking Nazi official comes in to Abraham’s grandfather’s tailor’s shop in Denmark, really happened. As to what transpired when he came in, well, that is the mystery and if you want to know the answer you’ll have to go and see the play yourself. You won’t be disappointed if you do, the performances are great, and the story is compelling and thought-provoking with some genuinely laugh out loud moments. I’m not sure if Alexander’s mother will be laying on a spread every night though, but the theatre has a bar and café, so you won’t have to plutz about eating and drinking. Get yourselves down there.

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