A Promised Land

A Promised Land
Scottish Storytelling  Centre (Venue 30)
3 stars ***

VERY FEW SCOTS met their end in the death camps of the holocaust; but one of them was teacher and missionary Jane Haining, who was transported to Auschwitz in the early years of the Second World War, after refusing to abandon her post as the supervisor of a Budapest orphanage for destitute Jewish children.  Raymond Raszkowski Ross’s new play seeks to remember Jane’s life through her relationship with a fictional character, Rivka Feldman, whom she meets in Auschwitz; in the play, Rivka has arrived in postwar Scotland to make a promised pilgrimage to Jane’s home, but finds herself arrested and interrogated as a Jewish terrorist because she is carrying a gun.

The play therefore moves backwards and forwards between Rivka’s interrogation in Scotland, Jane’s interrogation in Hungary, and a scene in Auschwitz between Jane and Rivka’s brother, with Corinne Harris making a beautiful job of playing both women, and John McColl as all the men.  Sometimes, the story becomes a shade confusing, as Ross piles on the history lessons about the founding of Israel, and Britain’s questionable role in the tangled Middle Eastern politics of the time; and in the end, the survivor Rivka comes to seem more of a heroine than the victim, Jane, who quietly succumbs to her fate.  But this is is still a strong, moving and enjoyable piece of drama, performed with great commitment, and directed with sober intelligence and feeling by the Storytelling Centre’s boss, Donald Smith.

Joyce McMillan
Until 29 August
p. 222


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