REVIEW: BAD JEWS @ THE ARTS THEATRE
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
🎭 Bad Jews
📍 Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7JB
🗓 Thursday 25th August 2022
A PLAY FULL OF CHUTZPAH!
As someone who spends a lot of time in theatres watching musicals, I decided it was time to start seeing more plays and I started my re-initiation with Bad Jews.
Firstly, what I love about this play it the title. It gives absolutely nothing away about it apart from the fact that you know the characters are Jewish! As always, I avoided reading other reviews before seeing it so I was completely in the dark about what to expect.
The story is played out in real time and all within one studio apartment. Straight away we're introduced to Jonah, played by Charlie Beaven (making his West End Debut), and Daphna, played by Rosie Yadid (Rose Tatoo). The two are cousins and they have attended the funeral of their Bubbee (grandfather) earlier in the day.
I disliked the character of Daphna immediately! I think that is the point of her though. You do expect her to have a character arc that is so common in storytelling where she develops as a person but that just doesn't happen at all! I liked this about her because it means that this play doesn't conform to the norm. If anything, Daphna becomes more unlikeable throughout and really oversteps the mark at the end.
The character is the most ardent follower of Judaism and listening to her talk really raises the topic of religious bigotry. People are fine as long as they look like you, sound like you and believe in what you believe in. She is even compared to a Nazi during the play. This sounds harsh but its hard to argue with the reasoning behind the comment.
The final two characters are Liam, Jonah's brother, portrayed by Ashley Margolis (Beauty and the Beast) and his girlfriend Melody, played by Olivia Le Anderson (Love Handles).
Their entrance raises the story and Margolis is fantastic as Liam. He's another character that I didn't immediately warm to but as the storytelling developed he became very likeable and I was definitely on his side of the family argument which dominates this story.
The stand out moment of the play for me was what I can only describe as his 'Monologue Meltdown' which was exceptionally acted and he earned well deserved applause when it was finished.
Melody is the only character who isn't Jewish, which of course brings Daphna's prejudices to the forefront. She trained as an Opera singer but has since given up her dreams. When pressed to perform for the others, she gives a performance reminiscent of Florence Foster Jenkins! This is played out with beautiful hilarity and is another notable moment of the show. The confidence and belief in herself as she sings is in stark contrast to the sound she is emitting!
Jonah is the quietest character throughout, but perhaps the most important. He's kind of the bridge between squabbling cousins Daphna and Liam and is used by the two to argue their cases. "Jonah agrees with me". He is caught slap bang in the middle and Beaven's portrayal of him is played out with sensitive believability.
Everything in this story by Joshua Harmon is true to life. Nothing is over-exagerated or just put in for shock value which makes it relatable and believable.
The play runs for 1 hour 40 mins without an interval. This did seem quite a long time but as the play is in real time it wouldn't have made sense to stop and restart. This wasn't an issue for me personally but I just thought it was worth noting.
The play runs at the Arts Theatre until Sunday 25th September 2022. Head to www.artstheatrewestend.co.uk for show information and to book tickets.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.