This show about real people is clearly made with love. A love for family and creativity that has carried this production through the long journey to the stage – which, for that rarity, the original Australian musical, is a particularly difficult one. Love makes Driftwood the Musical succeed in some ways, but is probably also why it’s less than it could be. Sincere to a fault, this 100-minute chamber musical succumbs to sentimentality and bypasses nuance and complexity.

The cast of Driftwood the Musical. Photo © James Terry. Driftwood the Musical

It is based on Eva de Jong-Duldig’s 2017 memoir, Driftwood: Escape and Survival Through Art, which reveals her Jewish family’s flight from Nazi-occupied Austria in 1939 and how they eventually established a new life in Melbourne. Eva was only one when her artist parents Karl and Slawa Duldig decided they had to take what turned out to be a long, extremely uncertain journey to freedom. They left behind a comfortable, creative life, and family members including Slawa’s beloved sister, Rella. Slawa also had to sell the patent of her invention, the compact...