- February 12, 2018
I recently saw again that hit Broadway musical Spamalot, penned by Monty Python”s Eric Idle, and was reminded that after the initial productions the lyrics of one particular number were changed or sanitised to protect innocent provincial audiences. The line “You won’t get far on Broadway if you haven’t any Jews” was changed, Jews altered to stars. A lyric now without any bite and frankly a change that was to some extent theatrical ethnic cleansing. Taking it away was denying the huge impact of the Jewish people on the quality of theatre and in particular American theatre and comedy. I saw it as being a line in praise of a great creative force and certainly not one used in any derogatory sense.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to see the hilarious comedy Bad Jews when it came from the USA. I loved every minute of it, every jibe and slur and really loved its rampant “Jewishness”!
This is a super-charged comedy, ferocious, jaw-dropping, thoughtful – and still immensely funny – all at the same time. From a small “off-Broadway” launch it has rapidly rolled out into hundreds of productions around the world.
The more outrageously the characters start to behave, the more the comedy builds up
It is the story of three young members of a New York Jewish family, plus girlfriend, reluctantly forced to share a bed-sit apartment for the night, after the funeral of a beloved grandfather. And as the saying goes, there’s nothing like a death in the family to bring out the worst in people. Arguments flare up over who has the moral high ground, whether that’s about being a good family member or a bad one – or a “good Jew” or a “bad” one who doesn’t uphold faith and tradition.
But the big battle, one so many of us will recognise, is about which of them will inherit a symbolic item of jewellery left by their grandfather.
It’s a play which shocks, surprises and delights in equal measure. The more outrageously the characters start to behave, the more the comedy builds up.
Directed by Bob Ryder, Bad Jews promises to be a huge hit for the ever adventurous New Venture team and the production is being performed in their newly refurbished Theatre Upstairs, accessed by a flight of stairs. Expect bad language, racial stereotyping and plenty of laughs as this cleverly constructed comedy descends into hysterical family trauma.
16-24 March, £8/7, www.newventure.org.uk