Jack Rosenthal’s television play, originally transmitted in the BBC’s Play for Today in 1976, passed into folk legend, at least in the Jewish community. It told the simple but shocking story of young Eliot Green and his apprehensions over his forthcoming Bar Mitzvah and his worry that all the grown men in his life are somewhat immature and imperfect. In the meantime, the family goes through all the stock neuroses of putting on the then almost obligatory celebratory dinner dance.
Filmmaker Gary Sinyor’s irreverent retelling of the Exodus story starts with the baby left floating on the Nile when the Princess takes up Moses, a nicer baby who doesn’t cry and has a proper – er – Moses basket. NotMoses grows up a slave in Prince Moses’ shadow, until God orders both of them to lead the Israelites out of bondage – though it takes feisty Miriam to lead the Exodus. Synor’s intent was Life of Brian meets The Ten Commandments, but it’s rather more Carry On Taking the Tablets, silly humour that sends up the biblical story and religion. Like the Carry On films it could just get the audience vote and become a cult hit.
Asaf Korman’s powerful, challenging film, with script by his wife Liron Ben Shlush, who also stars alongside Dana Ivgy and Yaakov Zada Daniel, explores the symbiotic relationship between 27-year-old Chelli, sole carer for her mentally-challenged younger sister Gabby (24), until she is forced to find her part-time daycare and at the same time embarks on a relationship with Zohar a new work colleague. Ben-Shlush based her story on her own experience of having a mentally disabled sister and worked closely with friend and co-star Dana Ivgy on her role.
Musical theatre doesn’t need to be ground-breaking or stuffed full of numbers that go on to become ‘standards’ to be thoroughly enjoyable. What’s needed is a compelling story, an excellent ensemble and music and lyrics that move the plot along rather than holding up the action. Mrs Henderson Presents is just that – and it’s unashamedly and eccentrically British – with a Jewish protagonist sharing top honours for good measure.
Israeli actress Dana Ivgy chats to JR’s arts editor Judi Herman about her role in Asaf Korman’s drama Next to Her. This powerful, challenging film – with a script by Korman’s wife Liron Ben-Shlush – explores the symbiotic relationship between Chelli (played by Ben-Shlush) and her mentally-challenged sister Gabby (Ivgy), for whom she is the sole carer. One day she is forced to hand Gabby over to a daycare centre part-time, which is when a relationship of another kind develops with Zohar (Yaakov Zada Daniel) the new gym teacher at the school where she works. Ben-Shlush based this story on her own experience of having a mentally disabled sister and worked closely with friend and co-star Dana Ivgy on her role.
Next to Her can be watched on BFI Player for £6 or at the following screenings:
Friday 25 – Wednesday 30 March, times vary, £7.50, at MAC Birmingham, B12 9QH; 0121 446 3232. https://macbirmingham.co.uk
Sunday 20 March, 8pm, £8.50, at Glasgow Film Theatre, G3 6RB; 0141 332 6535. www.glasgowfilm.org/theatre