Bad Jews at Arts Theatre
Returning to London after sold-out runs in the West End, Bad Jews is a witty, dark comedy about what happens when a family heirloom is given to an “outsider” and the chaos that ensues. On the surface, the provocative title of Bad Jews can be seen as contentious, however, it is quickly made apparent that this is a phrase used by Jews when they break Jewish Law. This most clearly comes across through the character of Liam, played by Ashley Margolis, a “bad Jew” whose relationship with a non-Jew sparks controversy in the play.
Directed in this revival by Jon Pashley, the production is a thought-provoking piece of theatre that manages to ricochet from side-splitting laughter to deafening silence, to tear-jerking moments. The star of the show, without a doubt, is Rosie Yadid, who plays the antagonistic character of Daphna Feygenbaum, cousin to Liam and Jonah. Her fiery and pedantic persona is the key to the story unravelling, and whilst the characters on stage seem to grow disdainful of her throughout the play, to the audience she only grows more intriguing to watch, like a moth entranced by a flame.
Though, on the whole, it is a moving play, with the occasional poignant and reverent nods to the Holocaust, there are times when the dialogue falls flat and causes the audience to disengage. Perhaps this is due to the lack of interval, or the almost one-dimensional medium of communicating through shouting, but, without the character of Daphna, it would not be as engaging to watch.
That being said, Bad Jews is an unforgettable experience that will leave even the most sceptical audience member with a lump in their throat as one of the most loaded secrets is revealed by the least expected character. It comes as a reminder to the viewer that although this is a comedic play saddled with funny and uncomfortable moments you can barely tear your eyes from, it is based on a very real and traumatic history lived by many Jews across the globe.
Bad Jews is at Arts Theatre from 15th July until 25th September 2022. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.