DramaNorth East & YorkshireReview

Gideon Klein: Portrait of a Composer – Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Leeds

Written & devised: David Fligg

Composer: Gideon Klein

Director: Emma Gordon

Reviewer: Jane Austwick

To mark National Holocaust Memorial Day, we are reminded of the Centenary Year since the birth of classical music composer, Gideon Klein. Pluto Productions dramatizes Klein’s life into 70 minutes, giving the audience an insight into the heartbreaking loss that so many experienced.

Three actors create a picture through a narrative that draws on descriptive language, dialogue, and storytelling. The background story opens with Klein’s mother and sister showing his unstoppable eagerness to live and learn, as he becomes fascinated by Italian art and culture early on, establishing his thoughts in the play:

I am immersed in beauty.

Music is the central theme adding tension and atmosphere; the mood informed by an on-stage string quartet. Klein has a deep connection with and is a great artist of the European Modernist School. He was a pianist and educator, considered as one of the best chamber music composers of the century.

Once Klein is taken to Terezín (Theresienstadt) concentration camp, there is (quite understandably) a change in his demeanor. He starts to lose hope, indicative of the darkness he finds himself falling into. He says:

Do not forget about me.

Before his life comes to a devastating end at just 25 years old, he experiences soul-destroying, emotional pain, knowing of the fate that awaits him. The play is a personal testimony to Klein’s life and achievements but it is also symbolic, giving insight into what so many prisoners were reduced to before they perished.

Reviewed on 27 January 2019 | Image: Contributed

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