Exodus: The Shanghai Jews

L.A. Theatre Works. Oct. 2023. 1:26 hrs. ISBN 9781682661796. $29.95. DRAMA
Among the many histories of World War II, one largely left untold has been that of the nearly 20,000 Jews who escaped Nazi persecution by traveling to Shanghai—one of the only places in the world to offer unlimited visas to Jewish refugees. McAll’s original docudrama vocalizes these important stories, with actors performing dialogue from interviews with eight survivors, conducted in the 1990s. A long-married German couple remembers making a life together in a foreign city as newlyweds, while a man recounts arriving in Shanghai as a 16-year-old magician, alone save for his community of fellow refugees. If anything feels lost in the docudrama, directed by Anna Lyse Erikson, it is the nuances of the refugees’ relationship to Shanghai itself, which is conspicuously truncated within the play’s 87-minute run time. Nevertheless, with powerful narratives and realistic performances, this is a work worth experiencing and an important step toward enlightening audiences about a piece of history at risk of being forgotten.
VERDICT A short but compelling docudrama that breathes life into the accounts of a too-little-discussed population of Holocaust survivors in Shanghai. Share with educators and general audiobook listeners seeking accounts of Jewish refugees or World War II history.
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