JEW…ish is a delight, a joy, a real treat. Saul Boyer (co-writer with Poppy Damon) as Max and Edie Newman as TJ are superbly engaging and very watchable as the mixed Jew and gentile couple who try desperately to keep their love hate relationship on track. In a one hour tour de force they give us a feast of goodies to enjoy. Saul sings “I’m a Jew“, to the tune of James Brown’s soul classic ‘Sex Machine’. Edie cavorts in a most bizarre outfit of flippers, rubber ring and swimming cap to reprise her burlesque show routine The Gaza Strip, pun intended. In fact this is one of many puns the show revels in, (you dropped me like a hot potato Latke Max complains after yet another break up with TJ.) The comedy ranges from the silly (remote control cars to represent both a journey to a funeral and Edie leaving him, she reverses the car to indicate that she’s leaving), the funny pun (I’m a barrister not a barrista), to classic Jewish humour. Saul sums up the history of the Jewish people thus: “they tried to kill us , they failed , let’s eat.” Like a kosher Groundhog Day JEW…ish is funny, witty and hugely enjoyable.
Georgia Cusworth’s minimalist set makes clever use of a chaise lounge on wheels to create the various settings. Her use of cardboard boxes has a hint of Beckett’s dustbins in Endgame. Directors Kennedy Bloomer and Toby Hampton maintain pace and variety throughout so that the audience remains fully engaged throughout the hour. The writing is spot on. A blend of realism, surrealism and up to the minute satire the writing and dialogue fizzes with wit, humour and black comedy. Saul and Edie develop plenty of comic energy in their on/off, love/hate back and forth battle of wills. Much of the humour is generated by the contrast between Max who wants to leave Judaism and TJ who wants to embrace it. As they both find out leaving isn’t easy and joining is easier said than done. Exploring the minefield that is coupledom, extended family and religious heritage, JEW…ish is a contemporary gem that deftly and delightfully delineates the resulting comic fault lines.
Review by John O’Brien
We can’t stay together, you think the Gaza Strip is a burlesque act! Jew…ish is the twisted millennial romcom that absolutely no one asked for, posing the one question that should never be answered: is it ever ok to get back with your ex? TJ and Max are in love; with polyamory, substance-based escapism on the Portobello Road and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Occasionally even each other. There’s just one thing: Max is Jewish. TJ isn’t. Watch as these mortal (fre)nemies navigate the cultural divide – amid death, pegging, and two millennias of inherited trauma.
14 January 2020 – 19 January 2020