Josh is gay, and Josh is Jewish, but Josh is struggling to find a way to fit those two things together. In Nice Jewish Boy, we are taken on an exhibition of his seemingly warring identities, as Josh desperately tries to work out who he is and what he wants.
Over one hour, Josh tells us about his two identities, cool gay Josh who lives in London and meets sexy guys on Friday nights, and thoughtful sensitive Jewish Josh who just wants his mother and grandmother’s approval. Josh wishes he could find the common ground between these two identities, but struggles and that gets him down. He does eventually find some kind of solace, but what enables or forces that would be spoiling the show.
Nice Jewish Boy is a play about it being difficult to be Jewish and Gay, and yes, you have seen that show before. It is worth noting that I say that as a Jewish queer. And while Josh’s story does not break down the door in terms of a new story being told in a new way, he isn’t just telling us about how awful homophobia/antisemitism is, because I know how bad it is. What the writer (Josh Maughan) and director (Jake Samson) do is talk about the conflict between these identities and how it can be difficult to find comfort in those intersections. And while this is an interesting, nuanced discussion to be had, the writer just says it’s difficult and then moves on without delving into the complexities he has unearthed, thus leaving a lot to be desired.
The writing also fails to succeed in the comedy it relies upon to keep the plot moving. Oftentimes the jokes do not feel natural and Maughan (writer-performer) would benefit from charisma and a comedic sense that could give the show rhythm and bring out the self-explorative nature of the piece. The piece is predictable, and while there are some moments of genuine introspection, they were swamped with long sections of set-up and exposition.
This piece has a future, it just needs to cut down, focus and delve deeper. The piece’s resolution, while personal, does not put to bed the foundations of Josh’s conflicts. This piece is nice, but nice doesn’t wield the emotional weight that this intimate and touching story could.
Review by Tom Carter
Josh has always been a nice Jewish boy. He had a lovely girlfriend, got good grades and was even head boy of his Jewish high school. However, in London, he discovers men, and poppers, and douching and Heaven nightclub.
Produced by Springbok Production House, Nice Jewish Boy is a tragic comedy about a clash of identities. When Josh is gifted his worst nightmare on his 19th birthday, he must confront what haunts both his synagogue services and Grindr hookups.
As an ode to our desperation for inclusivity, Josh Maughan’s debut one-man play is for all – bring your partners, bring your friends, bring your mothers and fathers and if you dare, bring your grandparents and follow Josh as he discovers who he is – and who he can be.
13 – 17 DEC 2022
NICE JEWISH BOY
writer JOSH MAUGHAN
director JAKE SAMSON