Extraordinary true story of German Jewish poet who fled the Nazis comes to our studio space this month

8 Apr 2024


Yorkshire actor, writer and theatre maker Nicki Davy bring her great-aunt's incredible life story to the Bramall Rock Void on 19-20 April.

Nicki Davy has a particular interest in bringing unknown stories to light, especially those of women. So, when her mum uncovered an incredible story in her granny’s attic, it felt like a providential gift she could not ignore.

When her granny, Ilse, went into a nursing home, her mum cleared out her attic and discovered a box of poems, short stories and plays written by Eva Metzger, Ilse’s sister, who had died shortly after the Second World War at the age of 29.

“My mum spent several years piecing together Eva’s life, with help from my granny, national archives, official documentation, newspaper articles, surviving relatives and historians,” said Nicki. “She then passed everything on to me so that I could create a piece of theatre telling Eva’s story.”

And what a story it is. Exploring her great-aunt’s journey 75 years ago, when she was forced to leave her country, her family and her childhood home as Hitler came to power, Nicki has created an incredible new play, Eva, using the words she left behind.

Eva herself was a prolific writer, fluent in both German and English, and left behind dozens of poems, several short stories and one full length play. Her poetry developed through her short life, beginning with verse about nature and developing into a commentary on the war.

“During the Blitz, she was evacuated from London and, entirely by coincidence, was boarded with the family of Aneurin Bevan – the father of the NHS,” Nicki continued. “Bevan was impressed with Eva and took her on as his personal secretary, as well as helping her to publish some of her poems in the socialist newspaper The Tribune.”

Back in London, Eva also enlisted as a volunteer for the ATS (Auxilliary Territorial Service), but because of her status as an ‘enemy alien’ she was told that she wasn’t allowed to handle ‘sensitive information’, so was moved on. She was eventually recruited to work for British Intelligence in the ‘listening rooms’ at Latimer House and the ‘London Cage’, where Nazi generals were being held as war criminals. She translated and transcribed the generals’ conversations as they discussed the atrocities that had been committed during the Holocaust.

“Eva was granted British Citizenship and changed her name from Metzger to Massey in 1948 – my granny thinks this was in an attempt to appear more British,” Nicki explained. “She became ill with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1946 whilst working for British Intelligence and died on 10th August 1950, at just 29 years old. Her sister, my granny, Ilse, survived until 2022, and it was because of some of her anecdotes that we know as much about Eva as we now do.”

Eva is played by Nicki Davy (Luna Loves Library Day, UK tour; The Wicked Lady, Nottingham Theatre Royal, Absent Friends, Lawrence Batley Theatre), alongside Luke Dickson as Aneurin Bevan/Papa/Mr Turner/The Guide (as Co-Creative Director of Alive and Kicking Theatre Company, he has produced three one-person shows, Naked Circus, Like A Book and The Great Dixoni) and Kathleen Yore as Ms Ingham/Tea Lady/Nurse/C.O/Ilse/The Guide (Pirate Bonnie, Fidget Theatre; Mother Courage and Her Children, Red Ladder; Seaside Terror, Odd Doll Theatre).

The Eva creative team includes: Director Leanne Rowley, Sound Designer Ed Heaton, Set & Costume Designer Emma Williams; Producer Rachael Halliwell; and Technical Stage Manager Jonathan Chadwick.


    Arts Council
  • Leeds City Council
  • LTB Foundation
  • Principal Partner

    Caddick Group
  • Principal Access Partner

    Irwin Mitchell