Stunning display of Nivelli’s War by Cahoots NI

The cast of Nivelli's War at the Burnavon. Pic by Sandra Vaisnoraite.
The cast of Nivelli's War at the Burnavon. Pic by Sandra Vaisnoraite.

Cahoots NI, the acclaimed theatre company, put on a stunning theatrical display filled with magic, imagery and moving scenes at the Burnavon in Cookstown today (Wednesday).

Nivelli’s War follows Ernst, a young boy evacuated from his home in Frankfurt during World War II.

When the fighting ends and the guns are silenced, the six-year-old ends up alone, unsure if he’ll ever see his family again.

However, a kind, enchanting stranger, known only as Mr H, comes to the rescue and befriends Ernst. With his bag of unusual magic tricks, he accompanies Ernst on the long road home, fostering a close friendship with the boy.

The story is the true tale of the magician who survived the concentration camp thanks to his ability to perform magic tricks. Having researched the magician’s background, Cahoots’ artistic director Paul Bosco-McEneaney discovered his real name was Herbert Levin and that he was Jewish. After he left Auschwitz, he moved to the USA where he became a great magician known as The Great Nivelli, and so, the show was brought to the stage for audiences in the province.

As the lights fade, an old man, dressed in top hat and tails appears. This is the Great Nivelli, but when he holds up a red balloon, the audience is immediately transported back in time to his younger days.

The show is contemporary, stylish, artistic and filled with great special effects and wonderful scene transitions without the curtain coming down, and is primed to make the young audience think deeply about the subject matter.

Of course, the horror of war is not glossed over for the sake of the children - images of the aftermath form the backdrop for the scene in which Ernst is desperately trying to make his way home.

The acting is wonderful and the cast have put their hearts and souls into the roles to ensure flawless, believable performances complete with German ‘accents.’

The Burnavon was packed with children from schools throughout the district who’d come to enjoy Nivelli’s War. And afterwards the pupils agreed that the professional magic tricks featuring all the well-known magician’s props, and spectacular illusions really made the show work for them.

Despite being a little over an hour long, the sophisticated performance held the children’s attention throughout.

All credit goes to Cahoots NI and their team of dedicated actors for this incredibly moving and faultless performance.