The Silver Sword

Belgrade Theatre


THERE is such poignancy amid the parallels of this moving story of the three-year trudge across Europe of three young refugees that is almost required viewing.

I read Ian Serraillier’s novel so many times as a child that no bookseller would give me tuppence for my copy, it is so dog-eared, moth-eaten and battered.

Warsaw, 1942, and the war is taking its toll on the population. Many, including the children, have fled to the forests for safety but ‘Corporal Winter’, the hardshipsilver sword cast of cold, damp and hunger, force the children, 15-year-old Ruth (Rachel Flynn), 13-year-old Edek (Oliver Buckner) and little five-year-old Bronia (Catrin Connellan) back to the city to find food.

They meet Jan (Tom Mackley), an orphan, naturally suspicious, whose affinity for animals wins them friends and light-fingeredness brings them food. He carries with him a box of treasures including the silver sword given to him, by coincidence, by the children’s father (Julian Harries) together with a message to tell them to aim for Switzerland. The decision to find their parents is made.

Oliver Bruckner (Edek), Julian Harries (Joseph) and Rachel Flynn (Ruth). Picture: Robert Day 

As the Nazi occupation is replaced by the Russian ‘rescuers’, Ivan (Nathan Turner) a kind-hearted Russian soldier supports them with boots, food and blankets. Next, they meet Herr and Frau Wolff (John O’Mahony and Lucy Tregear). Their dog Ludwig is pining for their two dead sons, both Nazi soldiers, and Jan’s gift for healing animals comes into play. Ludwig, a puppet dog, accompanies them onward.

Next they meet G.I. Joe Wolksi (Nathan Turner) Polish emigrant to USA who drives them the final 60k to Lake Constance on the Swiss border where after one last near miss as a storm hits the lake, support from the Red Cross finally reunites them with their parents.

I really enjoyed this musical adaption by by Susie McKenna and Steven Edis, it is beautifully constructed, with good balance between the horrors of war, the kindness of strangers and elements of comedy and music. The songs are memorable and everybody seemed to play everything and everyone! I particularly liked the Silver Moon song (Lucy Tregear) and Major Hargreaves (Alexander Knox) ‘Darling Jane’ comic song that brilliantly exposes the divergence between his accounts of bravery and actual deeds when faced with a chimpanzee. The actor I have missed seemed to me the anchor. Sue Appleby has a beautiful voice and plays the mother as, not only her own children but also Jan, are welcomed to the family. Directed by McKenna the Sell A Door Theatre Company production runs to 03-10-15

Jane Howard



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