Bad Jews | Review
Joshua Harmon’s play Bad Jews is currently on its third London outing in just over a year. It sold out at the St James Theatre and quickly transferred for a 3 month run at The Arts Theatre and now it has opened at the Theatre Royal Haymarket for another 6 week run. So what is its appeal?
After the funeral of their beloved Grandfather three cousins need to share a studio flat for the night but it is soon apparent that things are not going to go smoothly.
Daphna (Ailsa Joy) is fiercely proud of her Jewish heritage and feels that she because of this she has a special bond with her late Grandfather. She feels that being Jewish is integral to her character and is extremely overbearing and forthright in her opinions, most of which concern her cousin Liam, who she considers a ‘Bad Jew’.
Liam (Ilan Goodman) cannot bear Daphna and incurs plenty of critism from her when he misses the funeral due to travelling back from a skiing holiday with his girlfriend Melody (Antonia Kinlay). When Liam brings Melody to the flat, Daphna takes an instant dislike and considers her to be an insignificant airhead and worse – a non-Jew. Daphna delights in mocking Melody to the chagrin of her cousin who considers his girlfriend to be a ‘good’ person and the love of his life.
Trying not to get involved in their arguments is Liam’s brother Jonah (Jos Slovak), until he is dragged reluctantly into the middle when Daphna requests that she may keep a family heirloom. The ‘Chai’ that belonged to their Grandfather holds particular Jewish significance and was with him when he survived the Holocaust. Liam however has other plans for the Chai and the fighting escalates further.
Most of the 100 minutes of this play does revolve round the spiky confrontations between Daphna and Liam, but at the same time it is very side-splittingly funny and a wonderful piece of theatre.
There is some great characterisation beautifully pulled off by Ailsa Joy as the overbearing Daphna who despite her seemingly fanatical approach to Judiasm is quite insecure and Ilan Goodman, whose outbursts of frustration are hilarious to watch. Joy and Goodman have the majority of lines in the play, which they deliver at a furious pace and with excellent comic timing.
Praise of Joy and Goodman however is not belittling the excellent supporting roles of Jos Slovak who provides the most touching and Antonia Kinlay who provides one of the most hilarious moments of the night as she tries to calm the situation down by singing Summertime from Porgy and Bess.
I thoroughly enjoyed Bad Jews, it is extremely witty and sharp and great fun. You shouldn’t laugh at this family quite literally pulling their hair out with each other – but you do.
☆☆☆☆ – Highly recommended
Reviewer : Sammi O’Neill
Bad Jews is playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until the 19th March 2016
Monday to Saturday evenings 8pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees 3pm
Show running time 1 hour 40 minutes (no interval)