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Bad Jews is a spellbinding illustration of war between the secular and the orthodox that will even give you a few belly laughs.

No, the title isn’t a reference to Jews breaking the law – at least not the law of the land. In American playwright Joshua Harmon’s viciously funny new comedy, three young people are gathered together in Jonah and Liam’s cramped New York apartment on the night of their beloved grandfather’s funeral, displaying very different interpretations of being Jewish.

Student Jonah doesn’t express any strong view whilst his postgrad older brother Liam has totally rejected the religious aspects of his heritage and been dating a string of religiously and culturally “unsuitable” girls. Their annoying cousin Daphna, on the other hand, has embraced Judaism to the extent that she’s planning to emigrate to Israel and study to become a rabbi when she leaves Vassar.

This, she believes, makes her the natural recipient of their late grandfather’s chai, a medallion which he kept with him through the Holocaust. It’s only a small - if symbolic- thing and she desperately wants it. But when Liam finally arrives to lay claim to it - too late for the funeral (he’s been skiing in Aspen) and with his pretty, blonde, WASP girlfriend Melody in tow - the sparks really fly.

There’s excellent work from all concerned in Michael Longhurst’s swift production. Jenna Augen’s Daphna is bright, bitchy and unbearable and Ilan Goodman’s Liam can hardly stand to be in the same room as her. All the while, Joe Coen’s Jonah sits resolutely on the fence as the two exchange diatribes of verbal vitriol. Gina Bramhill’s sweet, good-natured former opera student Melody delivers a toe-curling rendition of Summertime in a futile attempt at reconciliation and peace-keeping in this intriguing conflict.

St James, Palace Street, SW1E 5JA

Tube: Victoria

Until 28th February    

£10- £25

stjamestheatre.co.uk

 


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Theatre review: Bad Jews
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