Joshua Harmon’s corrosive family comedy BAD JEWS, directed by Michael Longhurst just completed it’s extended West End run at the Arts Theatre in London on Saturday. It originated at the Theatre Royal Bath’s Ustinov Studio last year before transferring to the St James Theatre in London in January then onto the Arts a month later.
Described by WhatsOnStage as a “brutal, feral script with great soul” it centres on a gathering of three jewish cousins in a cramped Manhattan apartment for their grandpa’s funeral. Daphna (Jenna Augen), a puritanical vegan uber-Jewess and Rabbi in training is jealous of Jonah (Joe Coen) and Shlomo (Ilan Goodman), who calls himself Liam, because their wealthy parents bought them a flat before either had found a job. Liam is a self-styled ‘bad jew’,obsessed with Japanese culture and intends to marry out of the faith. He arrives late, missing the funeral because he was skiing (apparently a non-Jewish activity) in Aspen with his dim, but beautiful gentile girlfriend Melody (Gina Bramhill). The crux of the conflict is a lucky medallion, a treasured family heirloom, which their grandfather hid in his mouth during years in a concentration camp. Daphna and Liam both claim it, but the latter has it in his pocket and intends to give it to Melody as a marriage garland. Daphna is displeased, screaming, get it off her “Christian c**t neck!”
Paul Taylor in the Independent put it simply, “blisteringly funny…brilliantly acted.”
I, as usual left it to the last day to get my sketch signed, but not the last performance. I thought I would attempt to get the cast going in for the matinee in an already over-subscribed saturday stalking schedule. Getting there at noon, the very helpful box office staff told me that they all arrive at different times, but usually after 1.30. Plan B. I wrote a quick note and left it with a stamped envelope (a sig stalker is always prepared) and one of my black Pentel fine point pens… oh yes and the drawing (which once or twice I’ve forgotten to include, but that’s for another time), with the aforementioned wonderful staff. ‘No Problem, the Production Manager calls past before each performance – we’ll give it to her”, and ‘mazel tov’ to me… it arrived, signed in my post box, within three days.