Tag Archives: reviews

Classic choice: David Herman celebrates Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint

Philip Roth (left) and Primo Levi in Turin during the interview in Shop Talk, 1986.

“Why are you so nasty?” Brenda asks Neil in Philip Roth’s first book, Goodbye, Columbus. Nasty? Neil was tame stuff compared to some of Roth’s later heroes and no one comes nastier than Alex Portnoy. If Goodbye, Columbus launched Roth at the end of the 1950s, it was Portnoy’s Complaint, published ten years later, that made him a household name. It is when he found his voice as a writer: fast, furious, funny and very, very Jewish.

Portnoy was a book of its time, one of the best Jewish American novels of the Sixties. Published at the height of the 1960s, it was about sex, race and letting go. The whole novel is one long monologue by Alex Portnoy, lying on his analyst’s couch, trying to find out where it all went wrong.

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Review: Effigies of Wickedness ★★★★ – A riot of colour, challenging ideas and songs with bite that the Nazis tried to ban

When the Nazis branded music by Jewish composers and ‘negro music’, the so-called ‘degenerate’ music of the Weimar cabaret, an ‘effigy of wickedness’ – they banned it too. But not before staging a Degenerate Music Exhibition, complete with listening booths to teach the public what to deplore, and people queued round the block for the chance to hear it. Eighty years later you may still have to queue to see this compelling, provocative and wildly colourful cabaret.

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Get a look at the four student films set to be showcased at the 11th TAU Night at the Movies

Israel is rightly famed for its thriving film industry for directors, actors and other creatives who produce films that provide snapshots of life in Israel. From delicious quirky comedies to tense dramas: they are not afraid to engage with the difficult issues facing the septuagenarian state and its inhabitants.

Every year the Tel Aviv University (TAU) Night at the Movies provides an exciting opportunity for UK audiences to see a handful of short films created by graduates from the Steve Tisch School of Film and Television at TAU. And every year they provide new proof that the future of Israel’s film industry is in safe hands.

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Review: SHOW ★★★★ – Hofesh Shechter’s apprentice company dances up a whirlwind of comedy and menace

Celebrated choreographer Hofesh Shechter presents Shechter II, his apprentice company for dancers ages 18-25. Just eight extraordinary young international talents, chosen from over 1,000 who auditioned, prove they are already a force to be reckoned with. Rock gig meets circus in this funny, disturbing, sexy show, tinged with the menace of gothic horror.

Dressed in an intriguing amalgam of costumes (costume supervisor Laura Rushton) suggesting clowns, music hall and Edwardiana, the dancers group and regroup, by turns amorous and supportive and threateningly murderous. Attraction proves fatal as, with dizzying speed, they move from ardent embrace to ruthless assassination. As they execute their deceptively wild and fluid measures, they take turns to execute each other, stabbing and strangling, falling and jerking in repeated death throes, only to rise and start all over again. It’s as if Mr Punch had come to life and inspired a whole troupe of imitators.

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