Suzan Sylvester talks about her role as Evelyn in KINDERTRANSPORT

Suzan Sylvester and Jenny Lee in KINDERTRANSPORT

Suzan Sylvester and Jenny Lee in KINDERTRANSPORT. Photo Credit: Mark Sepple

Suzan Sylvester talks to Frankly My Dear UK about her role as Evelyn in KINDERTRANSPORT

Diane Samuels’ deeply moving and timely play KINDERTRANSPORT celebrates its 25th year this year with a special anniversary tour.

Based on real-life stories, KINDERTRANSPORT tells the story of nine-year-old Eva who is forced onto a train by her desperate mother in Hamburg, 1938 in order to escape the threat of World War II. Arriving at Liverpool Street Station, Eva is tagged like a piece of luggage before she is handed over to strangers.

Fast forward 40 years later to Manchester 1980, as proud mum Evelyn prepares to say goodbye to daughter Faith as she leaves the family home for the first time – until Faith finds something in the attic that will change her life forever.

Ahead of its week-long run at Manchester’s Opera House this week, Suzan Sylvester talks to Frankly My Dear UK about her role as Evelyn in the haunting play about a woman’s struggle to come to terms with her past.

How did you get into acting, who were/are your inspirations?

Through school – Salisbury Theatre came to our school. I then joined the Salisbury Playhouse youth theatre, STAGE’65. I also loved the circus and Hollywood musicals. I also saw a production on BBC Open University (I think), Raul Julia and Meryl Streep in Taming of the Shrew a real inspiration!

How do you develop your character, does having played the role of the daughter in the original production help?

You simply have to be a daughter to understand. I was in the original production – 25 years is a long time ago though and I don’t remember much at all. I’ve come to this with fresh eyes on my character Evelyn.

Do you think the play resonates well with the current situation of unaccompanied children from current conflicts?

Absolutely you can’t help but see the parallels.

You have played many roles in the theatre, is there one or two still on list of roles you would love to perform?

Yes! Paulina, Cleopatra. Comedy! American plays…

How do you relax, especially after a play, especially after playing such a moving role?

Food, drink, bath. Watch a completely unrelated film or comedy.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

‘Live your life, not someone else’s and keep your knickers on’!

If you could go out for a meal with 2 or 3 other, historical, fictional or contemporary who would you pick?

Tony Benn, Grayson Perry, Carrie Fisher

KINDERTRANSPORT runs at Opera House, Manchester from 1 – 5 May 2018