Bad Jews

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By Daniel Wilson

The Broadway and West End hit Bad Jews will have its Australian premiere at the Alex Theatre, St Kilda. Adored by critics and embraced by punters, this play has been called “hilariously, exquisitely edgy” – “scoldingly funny” – “a riotous evening” – “fast and funny, pungent and poignant comedy”.

Bad Jews’ Australian Producer, Aleksandar Vass, is confident Australians will also love the show. “Aussies have such a broad sense of humour, and even though the play takes place within the confines of a New York Jewish family, their story could be any family that has, shall we say, relatives we love and loathe … at the same time,” said Mr. Vass.

“Bad Jews was a massive hit in New York last year and has three touring companies in the US at the moment. In the UK, it’s still running in a sell-out season. Only shows that strike a chord with audiences enjoy such success.”

“It is an edgy, black comedy that doesn’t play it safe and I think they are the types of shows that Melbourne audiences respond to,” Vass explained.

The Australian iteration is being directed by the acclaimed Gary Abrahams, who lauded the script, cast and creative team. “For us the challenge is going to be about finding a way that the humour and language translates to an Australian audience. In New York for example they have a much heightened sense of drama and themselves.”

The Jewish diaspora here in Melbourne will no doubt relish the opportunity to see something poignant and contemporary. “A Jewish audience will get a lot out of this – it speaks about a lot of contemporary issues, things that all families face. That conversation about more secular Jews and more religious Jews. There is a constant conversation going on in the community about Judaism as a culture vs Judaism as a religion, and I think the play really taps into that,” Abrahams told St Kilda News.

But it is not solely intended for a Jewish audience. Abrahams explained, “I think it speaks to a much broader audience than that, I think those things are quite universal, you could change the title to bad Greeks or bad Italians, bad Spaniards, or even bad Christians and the arguments and what the show is about translates to that, so it is important that a wider audience feels welcome and inclusive to the show.”

Abrahams has been working hard with his cast and crew to make this show live up to the hype. He told St Kilda News, “We looked long and hard for the right kind of cast for this, and I think we have assembled a team of very strong actors with a lot of credits to their names. Each of the actors has a particular quality that we think is suitable to the character that they play.”

Bad Jews features a tremendously talented Australian cast. Starring as the domineering Daphna is Maria Angelico (Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Under a Red Moon, Hating Alison Ashley, Wentworth, Rush, City Homicide, We Can Be Heroes). Simon Corfield (Packed to the Rafters, COPS, Crownies, The Birth of Creation, The One-Eyed Man is King) stars as Liam while his ‘shiksa’ girlfriend, Melody, is played by Anna Burgess (39 Steps, God of Carnage, Goodbye Miss Monroe, The Producers, Waiting for Godot, Neighbours, Last Man Standing, Thank God You’re Here). Matt Whitty (Foxfinder, About Tommy, Penelope) plays Jonah.

If you are not convinced yet, Abrahams had a few final words for us: “And it is funny. It is really really funny. It’s a laugh out loud script. The humour is razor sharp and I am really looking forward to seeing how it going to work out here.”

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