Theatre review: Bad Jews at The Fugard Theatre

Glen Biderman-Pam (Liam) and Lara Lipschitz as Daphna argue, with Donna Cormack-Thompson as Melody looking on, in The Fugard's BAD JEWS. Photo credit: Daniel Rutland Manners

Liam (Glen Biderman-Pam) and Daphna (Lara Lipschitz), with Melody (Donna Cormack-Thompson) keeping her distance.      Photo credit: Daniel Rutland Manners

The joy of family is that you have people in your life that you would not necessarily choose yourself.

The downfall:  you have people in your life you would not have had despite your best efforts to shake them.

Bad Jews plays off in bachelor apartment with a view of the Hudson River that, even though said view is just from the bathroom, is quite a palace by New York City standards. However, it quickly becomes claustrophobic as outspoken Jew, and defensive person in general, Daphna (Lara Lipschitz) stays over with her cousin Jonah (Oliver Booth) after their grandfather’s funeral.

There’s a culture clash of sorts when Jonah’s secular brother and Daphna’s least favourite cousin Liam (Glen Biderman-Pam) shows up with his Christian girlfriend Melody (Donna Cormack-Thomson). As grandchildren of a Holocaust survivor, the cousins all have very different ideas about honouring, or forgetting, this legacy.

Bad Jews is (VERY) loud and in your face. In fact, when I saw the show during its first run at the Fugard last year I felt quite rattled. From my second row seat it felt like I was being screamed at for an hour and a half. From the 5th row seat it felt much safer this time around.

The dialogue has the fast-passed, high pitch of a well-oiled Gilmore Girls rant, stuffed with a lifetime worth of comebacks that are usually only thought of days later, stewed in a pressure cooker of resentment.

Set designer Saul Radomsky has created a set that seems so solid they might as well have built a real New York City apartment on stage. With real SMEG appliances and textured wallpaper, the stage is every bit as desirable as the characters gushing about it implied.

The pure force of personalities in Bad Jews makes for unorthodox comedic and dramatic moments. It’s like being wacked over the head by an entitled millennial with a witty, hard, truth stick.

If you’re in Cape Town for some local flavour you can also make a hard right in the Fugard foyer for the return of the musical District Six – Kanala by David Kramer.

Bad Jews is on at the Fugard Theatre until 14 January


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