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Bad Jews - Theatre Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Witty Social Commentary On Jewish Family In New York
Promotion of this tantalising American play has focussed heavily on its hilarity, giving a nod to high praise from the New York Times as "the best comedy of the season" when it first surfaced in 2012.

But while it's a fine, thought-provoking piece of theatre, Bad Jews emerges itself in dark wit rather than laugh a minute antics and demonstrates the real differences in comedy between America and Britain.

Bad Jews, theatre review, Malvern Theatres, Richmond Theatre, London, Joshua Harmon, Ailsa Joy, Daniel Boyd, Antonia Kinlay, Jos Slovick
A family death spills out into angry confrontations in Bad Jews starring left to right Antonia Kinlay, Daniel Boyd and Ailsa Joy


It's a bolshy and, at times, angry piece of work, laying bare the extremes of religious belief and culture within one Jewish family following the death of a much-loved grandfather and Holocaust survivor.

This Off-Broadway hit by Joshua Harmon transferred over to the UK last year to Theatre Royal Bath and now tours the UK after a stint in London's West End. I caught it at Malvern Theatres in Worcestershire before it heads off to London's Richmond Theatre in November.

At only 1h 40 minutes long, it has no interval but seems to fly by despite an initial slow start. It picks up from a third of the way into the production as the small strong cast of four - three cousins and a fiance - come to blows over a treasured family heirloom and who deserves it the most.

Bad Jews, theatre review, Malvern Theatres, Richmond Theatre, London, Joshua Harmon, Ailsa Joy, Daniel Boyd, Antonia Kinlay, Jos Slovick
Ailsa Joy gives a strong performance as headstrong Daphna


Ailsa Joy as the manipulative, over-bearing and fanatically religious Daphna is superb with her long rants and sarcasm, while an excellent Daniel Boyd plays her cousin Liam at the other extreme of the religious spectrum, but just as enranged.

Caught in the middle are Liam's non-Jewish girlfriend Melody (Antonia Kinlay) and brother Jonah (Jos Slovick).

Bad Jews, theatre review, Malvern Theatres, Richmond Theatre, London, Joshua Harmon, Ailsa Joy, Daniel Boyd, Antonia Kinlay, Jos Slovick
Wit, sentimentality and anger in Bad Jews.


Don't get me wrong, there's some wonderfully witty moments in this play but its assets are its clever, memorable lines and sentimentality.

Bad Jews is ultimately a social commentary on religion, legacy and judaism in 21st Century America that will leave you with plenty of food for thought.

Rating: 7/10

Bad Jews

26 - 31 October, 2015 - Malvern Theatres
For tickets, see the Malvern Theatres website.
01684 892277

9 - 14 November, 2015 - Richmond Theatre, Richmond, London.
For tickets, see the ATG Theatre website.
0844 871 7651

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Why? See a clever, vibrant and witty play
When: Touring until November 2015
Phone: 01684 892277 - Malvern or 0844 871 7651 - Richmond Theatre
Where: Malvern Theatres and Richmond Theatre, London
Cost: Tickets cost from 15.90 - 37.90
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