Monthly Archives: November 2016

JR OutLoud: An Imam, a Rabbi and a Priest walk into a comedy club… and debut as stand-up comics. They tell us more…

Imam Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini, Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers and Reverend Steven Young tell Judi Herman about their hopes and fears for their very first comedy gig. An Imam, a Rabbi and a Priest Walk into a Comedy Club is taking place as part of JW3’s third annual UK Jewish Comedy Festival. And for an extra treat, hear Imam Muhammad demonstrate his prize-winning singing in Gaelic at the end of his chat with Judi!

An Imam, a Rabbi and a Priest Walk into a Comedy Club (with Q&A) is on Sunday 4 December, 5.30-6.30pm, £12, at  JW3, London NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8988. www.jw3.org.uk/comedy

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JR OutLoud: Lawyer turned comic Jeremie Bracka discusses his new show Thank you for Flying Hell-Al

Australian-Israeli comedian, actor and human rights lawyer Jeremie Bracka will be making his London debut on night one of JW3’s UK Jewish Comedy Festival (1-4 Dec). Here he talks to Judi Herman, JR’s arts editor, about life in the Middle East and Down Under, as well as his latest one-man show, Thank you for Flying Hell-Al, in which he uses storytelling, stand-up, character comedy and mockumentary to explore life in Israel and the experience of making Aliyah.

Thank you for Flying Hell-Al is on Thursday 1 December, 8.30pm, £15, at JW3, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8989. www.jw3.org.uk

Review: All My Sons ★★★★ – Miller packs an emotional punch in Michael Rudman’s finely calibrated production

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How strangely Miller’s first great hit resonates with today, in ways no one could have predicted. This beautifully measured play opens with shots of laidback family life in a typical American small town where everyone knows one another. Comfortably-off factory owner Joe Keller’s backyard is a focal point, where he and the neighbouring doctor are reading the papers. “What’s today’s calamity?” jokes David Horovitch’s amiable Joe. Cue gales of ironic audience laughter, with the US election so raw.

For a play that unfolds like a Greek tragedy, it’s surprising how much laughter is built into these opening scenes. But that’s the point: drama, and especially tragedy, is an interruption of routine.

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Leonard Cohen: A personal response from JR’s arts editor Judi Herman

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This is not where you will read erudite analysis or an account of a life, or even of the work. I am simply asking myself and others like me why we have been so profoundly affected by Leonard Cohen’s words, music and life.

For a time now, aware that the man who told us all “I’m your man” was an octogenarian, I have been confiding that I hoped he would live to a great age because the world would be a poorer place without him. It was a better place with him in it. I think I feel this way because of the arc of his life, with its many pathways, both sacred and profane, as shared through his music, confided to me and so many others through his gorgeous, elegant poetry and lyrics.

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Review: The Merchant of Venice ★★★★ – Tchaikowsky’s opera builds brilliantly on Shakespeare’s play and receives a stunning UK premiere by the WNO

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Andre Tchaikowsky’s opera is my fifth Merchant of Venice in little more than a year … and somehow it seems entirely appropriate to end this, Shakespeare’s quarcentenary year, with a new work of art inspired by one of his best-known plays.

The opera closely follows the play’s narrative, shedding a couple of minor characters, notably Lancelot Gobbo, Shylock’s servant and purveyor of comic relief, and Tubal, Shylock’s confidant and the only other Jew in the Shakespeare canon, apart from Shylock himself and Jessica, his daughter.

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Review: The Writer ★★★★ – A guide for the perplexed from the writer of hit Israeli TV series Arab Labour

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More reviews from the 20th UK International Jewish Film Festival. This time looking at two films from Israel giving insights into Arab/Israeli relations, featuring this mockumentary written by Sayed Kashua and directed by Shay Capon.

If you loved Arab-Israeli writer Sayed Kashua’s Arab Labour and you’re into Larry Davidson, this meta-reality TV series, which has its first three episodes screened at the Festival, is for you. But don’t expect to get the belly laughs or even the cynical giggles you got from Larry and Arab Labour’s genial, narcissistic anti-hero Amjad (who finds celebrity when he wins a TV reality show). Kashua’s writer Kateb (wonderfully perplexed Yousef Sweid) is his fictional alter ego, an Arab-Israeli TV writer who has achieved celebrity status with his hit TV series called – yes you’ve guessed it – Arab Labour.

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Review: Disturbing the Peace ★★★★ – Searing testimony from fighters for co-existence in Israel/Palestine

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More reviews from the 20th UK International Jewish Film Festival. This time looking at two films from Israel giving insights into Arab/Israeli relations, starting with Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young’s documentary, Disturbing the Peace.

For a searing insight into the wounds inflicted on both sides by the situation and into a group that has earned the right to work towards trying to heal them, I urge you to see this hard-hitting documentary. Even-handed filmmakers Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young take no prisoners and no sides. They give equal screen-time to the bravely candid members of Combatants for Peace from both the Israeli and Palestinian communities who speak directly to camera to tell their stories, backed up by documentary footage and reconstructions, as well as tense actuality of unfolding events.

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Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen has died, age 82

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On Monday 7 November, one of music’s most eloquent and able songwriters passed away. Leonard Cohen was 82 when he died peacefully at his home in southern California earlier this week. His son Adam said touchingly in an interview with Rolling Stone, “My father passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records. He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humour.”

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A look at the life of Johann Peter Salomon, the Jewish-born musician, impresario and creative force behind Haydn’s Creation

by Georg Siegmund Facius, or by Johann Gottlieb Facius, after Thomas Hardy, stipple engraving, published 1792

by Georg Siegmund Facius, or by Johann Gottlieb Facius, after Thomas Hardy, stipple engraving, published 1792

Ballet Rambert’s new production – with 50 dancers and 70 musicians from the Rambert Orchestra onstage, soloists and chorus from the BBC Singers, and designs by Pablo Bronstein – marries dance to the soaring music of Haydn’s mighty oratorio and its beautiful libretto, taken from Genesis and the Book of Psalms, as well as Milton’s Paradise Lost. It comes to Sadler’s Wells this month after a hugely successful premiere at Garsington Opera in July.

These November performances of The Creation are elegantly timed for Jewish lovers of music and dance, as in synagogues worldwide we have just recently begun reading the Torah from the beginning again, with Genesis and the story of the creation.

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Review: The Last Five Years ★★★★ – A poignant dissection, in a unique timeframe, of a relationship going nowhere

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Jason Robert Brown’s poignant, semi-autobiographical journey through a relationship, from heady first meeting to marriage and then downhill to disillusion and divorce, is an intimate chamber piece with just two protagonists: Cathy and Jamie. She is a struggling actress, he is a young Jewish writer on the cusp of  success.

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