“It became a very exotic place for me.” Simon Bent is talking about the Manchester of the 1950s, the setting of Howard Jacobson’s mighty tale of table tennis, teenage angst and Jewish family life. “What attracted me to the book is that it’s about a particular culture at a particular time which is gone. Part of the book is about the loss of that Manchester. It was Howard’s attempt to ‘get down’ that world before it got lost.”
Gefiltefest featured surprisingly few actual gefilte fish, but as one of the arguably less tasty staples of Jewish cuisine, it was more than made up for by the variety of food, including dairy-free ice cream, vegetarian caviar and multi-coloured hamentashen, all of which we dutifully and extensively sampled. Beth Duncan of Stapleton Dairy poured out tasting pots of the best yoghurt known to Finchley Road, and the courtyard was dominated by the exuberance of Michelle from Visit Israel – if this radiant lady can’t convince you to make Aliyah, no one can.
“My first attempt at a play, rather inevitably,” Arthur Miller once wrote, “had been about industrial action and a father and his two sons, the most autobiographical work I would ever write.”
You may not have heard of Miller’s play No Villain. It was his first, written when he was just 21, and submitted for the $250 Hopgood Award in drama at the University of Michigan, where he was studying in 1936. As the prize was worth about a quarter of the average family income at the time, it was extremely valuable to the Miller family, who had become impoverished during the Great Depression of the early-30s in the USA.
As the celebrations to mark the 500th anniversary of the Venice Ghetto continue, excitement mounts over the first ever performances of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in the Ghetto itself (26-31 July). JR’s arts editor Judi Herman will be talking to various members of the cast and creative team in the coming weeks, but first spoke to American actor Michelle Uranowitz about playing Shylock’s rebellious daughter Jessica in Venice.
Visit www.themerchantinvenice.org for more info.
Marc Chagall and his beloved Bella would surely have loved this magical synthesis of moving pictures, words, music and song. It is also a glorious and seamless synthesis of the talents of a superb creative and performing team.
Writer Daniel Jamieson and director Emma Rice got to know the couple intimately when they played the roles in an early version of his play. Now they return to realise their vision anew and share it with a new audience. Of course the two multi-talented actors, Marc Antolin and Audrey Brisson, are at the heart of the vision, bodies intertwining as they sing and speak, and seemingly floating above Sophia Clist’s quirky Chagallesque machine for acting on, all crazy angles, rakes, beams and crannies thanks to Etta Murfitt’s choreography and Malcolm Rippeth’s gorgeous, painterly lighting.