[ Review] Bad Jews

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Overlooking the Hudson river in New York a family gather after the funeral of their Grandfather. A precious family heirloom is up for grabs – a religious piece of jewellery with sentimental significance for all involved.

Squeezed into the small apartment is overbearing Daphna, Liam just returned from Aspen with his non Jewish girlfriend Melody and Jonah – who just does not want to get involved.

As the foursome squabble, reminisce and laugh together the tension that threatens constantly to boil over in what is a pressure cooker of family emotions. Daphna wants the jewellery so that she can feel connected to a Grandfather that survived the holocaust, his Jewish tattoo she remembers vividly as a child, the necklace connecting him to her. Liam wants it for more romantic reasons. The question remains – who is more deserving?

As the play evolves the black humour at times is rather confronting as the complex issues of religion, entitlement, money, and cultural heritage are explored. We all grieve for loved ones in different ways. Daphne and Liam long for something that reminds them of their Grandfather, whilst Jonah wants to be left out of it all preferring to choose his own way to remember his beloved Poppy.  The at times the  shallow, yet endearing Melody just happens to be stuck in the middle of the whole affair yet is a polar opposite of the intense Daphne and is a breath of fresh air.

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Each actor gives emotive, thought-provoking performances totally immersed in the roles they are playing. Maria Angelico ( Daphne) Simon Corfield ( Liam), Anna Burgess ( Melody) and Matt Whitey ( Jonah) bring to life regular people, living regular lives in a Manhattan apartment; an age-old conflict unravelling. As the loud, over bearing Daphne Maria Angelico is brilliant – at times the viewer siding with Liam and wanting her to calm down. All of the characters represent family members that most of us have and it makes the play very relatable – whether you’re Jewish or not.

As the final scene closes on the quiet and reserved Johan finally speaks in a soundless way to our hearts in a poignant reminder that sometimes it is not material things that matter when we lose a loved one. What we take in our hearts and memories are what matter the most.

 

 

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