Reunion is the tale of a summer two young boys spend in the spectre of Nazi Germany. Originally a novella written by Fred Uhlman, it has been adapted for stage by the artistic director of the New Theatre, Ronan Wilmot. Featuring Daniel Reardon as the sole actor, Reunion is now showing nightly at 8pm until 27th November.
Totally Dublin: What was the impetus behind adapting Reunion?
Ronan Wilmot: Well there was an Australian Jewish girl who work in our theatre about ten years ago, who, when she was leaving, asked me had I read the book, and told me it was her favourite book ever. I then read it while I was in Havana in Cuba, and it immediately struck me that this was made for the stage. So it was just the desire to stage this, really.
TD: What is it like working with Daniel Reardon? Was he someone that you always wanted to play this part? It sounds like this project has been on the backburner for a while…
RW: Yeah, it has. The idea to have Daniel in this came to me instinctively; I was doing a Flann O’Brien thing with Daniel and my son and, again, it just struck me that Daniel was perfect for this part. I had other people in mind, but I then decided that Daniel would be perfect; he’s about the same age as myself and as the protagonist, and he’s from New York, so he fitted the part really well.
TD: Did you feel and conflict or self-doubt, perhaps, in dealing with the highly sensitive subject matter.
RW: Yes, but for me this story must be told, all these stories cannot be forgotten. The contrast in the horror that happened in the aftermath of this summer the two boys spent, how such evil could come out of that, how such evil could come from such a beautifully civilized society that produced so many famous writers and musicians, how all that could transform, you would think it couldn’t, it’s not possible, but of course, we all know what happened.
TD: Is the innocence of the two boys a unique part of Reunion?
RW: Absolutely, it’s that contrast again between their lives, their innocence and what happened, how they were affected. There was all this foreshadowing, the swastikas began to appear, rioting between fascists and stories of Jews being attacked. But they couldn’t have been prepared for what happened. Uhlman’s father, who saw himself as a true German, a man who had fought in the First World War for his country and earned the Iron Cross refused to accept this would continue, he thought that it couldn’t happen that, like a disease on the skin, it would go away. And these two boys, one Jewish and one from an old aristocratic family, how all these changes affect them, is very much what makes Reunion special.
TD: It must be a very intense experience for yourself and Daniel?
RW: Yes, absolutely, but not just because of the subject matter, the story is intense in and of itself. We’re working hard to make sure that that intensity if with the audience right up until the end.
TD: Was there any conversation with Uhlamn’s estate over the adaption?
RW: Yes, the wanted to see a performance and they have said that they’re very happy with how it is going
TD: Which much be a huge help to you
RW: It is definitely. It’s going well so far and I feel confident it will be a success.
Words: Alan Farrell