The world of 90 years ago can seem impossibly far away. Then current events snap us back into startling proximity.

Just a couple of days prior to speaking to actor-soprano Tania De Jong about the upcoming revival of Driftwood The Musical, a theatricalisation of the story of her Jewish grandparents’ flight from Austria in the 1930s, black-clad and masked neo-Nazis were marching up Melbourne’s Spring St and performing straight-arm salutes on the steps of Parliament House.

“For anyone who asks why this play and why now, that is the best answer,” De Jong tells Limelight.

“It’s so important to keep telling those stories of The Holocaust. It’s something we can never forget and if we don’t remember the lessons of history, we can only repeat them.”

Driftwood The Musical (Tania De Jong, left). Photo © Cameron Grant/Parenthesy

Based on a 2017 book by De Jong’s mother, Eva de Jong-Duldig’s Driftwood: Escape and Survival Through Art, the musical tells the story of artist/inventor wife Slawa (Tania De Jong, playing her own grandmother, the inventor of the foldable umbrella), her sculptor husband Karl,...