Bad Jews at Theatre Royal Haymarket – Review

bad-jews-arts-theatreFollowing the success of its previous runs in London’s West End at St James and Arts Theatre, Joshua Harman’s 100 minute play returns to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket for six weeks only.

Emotions and tension often run high, whenever a family gets together, especially when a loved one dies. But in this hilarious new comedy, you frequently wonder whether the reunion of three of the late Poppy’s grandchildren could result in a murder.

Daphna is a puritanical vegan Jewess, training as a rabbi, who wants to move to Israel, marry a soldier and serve in the IDF. She’s insanely jealous of Jonah and Shlomo, whose parents have bought them a flat before either has found a job. Shlomo (who calls himself Liam) is a ‘bad Jew’ obsessed with Japanese culture who intends to marry out. Having missed the funeral due to being in Aspen on an un-Jewish skiing holiday, with his very far from Jewish, blond-haired, blue-eyed, and ¼ German girlfriend Melody, Liam arrives immediately demanding full control believing he, as the eldest grandson, should inherit Poppy’s chai necklace, to follow in his footsteps in proposing to his girlfriend with it.

The centre of the family’s bitter argument is around the chai, with both Liam and Daphna believing they should take it, both for very different reasons. Daphna sees the chai as its original purpose, a religious symbolic item. Liam however feels it represents family, trust and love following their grandfather’s survival of the holocaust. Not only this, having kept the chai in his mouth as a symbol of hope and faith during his imprisonment, he used the necklace to propose to his future wife due to lack of funds for a ring and Liam wishes to repeat history with his engagement to Melody.

Ailsa Joy’s role of the psychotic deluded Daphna stood out to me personally as a performance of pure emotion, and no matter what believed everything she did was okay.

Her character made me reflect on the way I think and act when around family and how our own selfish acts can have different effects on others. It left me with several meaningful thoughts and doubtless had the same effect on many others in the audience.

A very slick, well written play.

4 Stars


Review by Harry Cunningham

After sell-out seasons at the St James Theatre and Arts Theatre, the comedy hit of 2015 visits the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a six week run prior to a national tour.

In BAD JEWS a beloved grandfather has died and a treasured family heirloom is up for grabs. But who is most deserving of it? Bossy, overbearing, fanatically religious Dapha? Her wealthy cousin Liam who’s just returned from skiing with his non-Jewish girlfriend Melody? Or Jonah, his brother, who would prefer not to get involved in the fight.

Jonah – Jos Slovick
Daphna – Ailsa Joy
Liam – Ilan Goodman
Melody – Antonia Kinlay

Writer – Josh Harmon
Director – Michael Longhurst
Associate Director – Jon Pashley
Designer – Richard Kent
Lighting Desginer – Richard Howell
Sound Designer – Adrienne Quartly

Bad Jews
8th February until 19th March 2016 (Run time: 1hr 45 minutes with no interval)
Bad Jews at the Theatre Royal Haymarket
8 Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4HT