On the 17th of February, I went to watch a performance of The Hiding Place, at Central Baptist Church in Chelmsford city centre, put on by the Oddments Christian Theatre Company: who dedicate their efforts to preaching and helping others through their performances, prison work etc. The story of Corrie ten Boom is not just for believers but is a true account of her trials and faith-led perseverance throughout one of the most disastrous and dangerous times in history. Oddments have beautifully honoured this story through their performance- with an effective, simple set and beyond talented cast- to tell this inspirational, universal message of Corrie ten Boom.


The Hiding Place-

The Hiding Place is Corrie ten Boom retelling her courageous efforts during WW2 1940s Holland. Corrie and her family, Casper ‘Father’ ten Boom and her sister Elizabeth ‘Betsie’ ten Boom risked everything to hide Jews in their ‘Hiding Place’ from the Nazis, as part of the Underground Dutch resistance, until they were captured and tortured by the Nazis in Kamp Vaught and then Ravensbruck: a women’s concentration camp. Throughout their journey, Corrie’s true message talks of how her sickly sister Betsie inspired her to never lose faith in God as she continued to use forgiveness and charity towards others suffering, setting up Bible groups in the stuffed sleeping bunks in the concentration camp, managing to smuggle a Bible past the Nazi guards all the while staying positive and hopeful for freedom- during their continued torture at Ravensbruck.


With no previous knowledge of the theatre company or of the incredible true story of The Hiding Place, I had no expectation for The Hiding place to be this touching; imagining a usual church Nativity or children’s Sunday service. The story brought tears to the audience, the set was so effective and the acting was spectacularly moving, performing events of almost 100 years ago to still resonate with today’s audience.

Barry Boyton (the director and founder of Oddments theatre company, who has starred in all their 40 previous productions of The Hiding Place) spoke of how he edited the script to include the true horrifying situations that Corrie suffered through, that make her message and God given grace so strong and the famous quotes that makes the book so moving and memorable “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still”- The Hiding Place.

One of these scenes was showing how the girls and ladies in the concentration were fully stripped down in front of the Nazis guards during their medical exams: forbidden to cover themselves with their arms. It was really effective in presenting the harrowing experience, with the girls on stage shivering and wearing plain shirts with naked silhouettes on them. Oddments were so brave to change the script to include these true scenes of the violations Corrie ten Boom and the other girls went through, but it was so successful in creating these true moments of struggling and testing for Corrie, which would have made her journey and faith in her character lost without these scenes.


Audience members agreed that Oddments theatre ensured that key moments from the book were not lost; in their programme mentioning some of Corrie's other family members they had to cut out. The play is moving and impactful for both old followers and for new discoverers of Corrie ten Boom’s story, like me, so much so I bought a copy of The Hiding Place book from the Oddments stall; so I can read all of Corrie’s book for myself.


In an interview with audience member, Gillian Parker she praised the performance “It was very moving and helped me appreciate the bravery of the ten Boom sisters and the strength of their faith.  I also found it was very true to the book which I have read”  


The set was so simple and so effective. Three boxes and two wardrobes which opened either side presented each location. Barred doors and bunk bed acted as the prions cells, showers and the beds in the concentration camp. This was such an insightful decision as this was all the audience needed to visualise these vastly differing living conditions Corrie lives through and ensures no exaggerated set can distract from the story. Plus, the set transitions were so smooth and seamless with this design.

With the acting, praise must equally go to every cast member. Barry Boyton was hilarious as Casper ten Boom; making light of the changing time, in the opening monologue of Corrie, and having to quickly change the set with each season as this old man. Then changing to the shocking and heavy moment where he is the German guard. Stephanie Wolfe as resilient Miss Smit and Jelena Kratz so convincing and terrifying as a Nazi guard; both had so many roles to play I cannot express the awe I had for these two actresses, who could convincingly portray each role.

Joanna Hodgson was the most inspirational Betsie,  who continued to rise above the situation; bringing the perfect positivity and truth in faith in the word of God; to bring laughs and comfort to the audience through the horror- just as Betsie did for Corrie. Sarah Bentley was such a motivational and convincing Corrie who captivated you with her emotions and storytelling of such a complicated part. Especially when Corrie went through the turmoil of her inner monologues which made me, as audience member, hold onto her every word and message she had as Corrie ten Boom. Of course credit must be given to the crew (Sadie Dyer, Emma Handcock and Jenny Costigan) who organised the show, delivered the set and ran sound and lighting for the night.

The scene that brought the audience to tears was the ending. Each cast member came out to the front and held the photos of the ten Boom family and from their hand silently and gracefully dropped petals of the Jewish Star to honour the Jews who had died in the war; reminding the audience that this was a true story they had witnessed and every distressing and overwhelming moment acted in the play happened. It was a beautiful and peaceful honouring to the sacrifice of the ten Boom family, who risked their lives to save others.


One amazing thing about Oddments Christian Theatre Company is the work they do in prisons, where they preach and perform for prisoners. If the work and heart-warming performances of this company encourage you to watch or book this play, not only will you get to experience this wonderful and moving story or other plays offered by Oddments you will be supporting their charity work and keeping the company alive; so many more can watch and learn the inspiration that is Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place.