st james theatre

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

theatre-the-last-five-years-scott-rylander 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.

The musical's remarkable USP is that Cathy and Jamie travel through time in opposite directions. She begins with the final break up and ends with the delicious moment of meeting – with all the excitement of possibility still ahead. He starts off full of the enticing novelty of his "Shiksa goddess" (shiksa being slang for non-Jewish girl) after all those nice, safe and suitable Jewish girls.

Jonathan Bailey and Samantha Barks seize the opportunities offered by this clever structure. Brown turns a fine lyric – “Jamie arrived at the end of the line / Jamie's convinced that the problems are mine / Jamie is probably feeling just fine and I'm still hurting” – and his music is both lush and nuanced. The show succeeds brilliantly in demonstrating the ultimate isolation of its protagonists, just because the structure dictates that they must spend most of its duration singing alone on stage to an imaginary partner.


It's an extraordinary relief when, at what is really the show’s climax half way through, they do at last have a duet of transcendent joy as he proposes and she accepts. I was left longing for more shared stage time and song. True the show ends with both on stage singing, not together, but as far apart as is possible to be. The audience is all too aware that the youth and optimism with which Barks shimmers is destined to have its shine dulled by Jamie's unthinking neglect. He climbs the slippery pole to success and has his head turned by the adoration of other women, while she remains earthbound, her career never taking off.

It's heartbreaking to watch Barks' beautifully realised account of Cathy unfolding like a flower in sunlight as she goes back to the time when she was full of hope. And Bailey is not afraid to be unsympathetic as success turns his head and he leaves his young wife at home for yet another showbiz party.

Brown gets away with directing himself, though it would have been interesting to see what an outside director makes of the piece. Derek McLane's design of window frames above a bare stage lit with squares of lights suggests New York apartment buildings and is supplemented sometimes more/sometimes less effectively by truck stages wheeled on and off. It seems a large empty space for just two performers at times; though the space above and behind the window frames is wonderfully filled by the glorious band – the plangent strings of two cellos, violin, guitar and bass, with MD Torquil Munro's piano, but no percussion in Brown's own orchestrations. And costume designer Gabriella Slade provides Miss Barks with a fabulous succession of entirely appropriate outfits for every stage of this sad little dissection of a relationship. An affecting evening.

By Judi Herman

Photos by Scott Rylander

The Last Five Years runs until Saturday 3 December, Monday to Saturday 7.30pm, Thursday & Saturday 2.30pm, £10-£59.50, at St James Theatre,12 Palace St, SW1E 5JA; 0844 264 2140.


Review: The Pianist of Willesden Lane ★★★★ – Moving pictures of a mother’s life and music glow in the warmth of a daughter’s love

Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willesden Lane 03. Photo Credit Hershey Felder Presents. Adapted by Hershey Felder from the book The Children of Willesden Lane, by Los Angelean pianist Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, this is the true story of Golabek's mother, Lisa Jura. As a young Jewish pianist Jura's dreams about her Vienna concert debut were shattered by the Nazis in the 1938 Anschluss like the glass of Kristallnacht, as her family bravely placed her on the Kindertransport to London.

At first sight the set resembles a music salon or concert hall dominated by a magnificent Steinway grand piano, with mirrors in ornate gilded frames on the walls behind and a bank of flowers around the footlights.

Golabek, a slight red-head dressed simply in black, moves into the light on the steps and turns the warmth of her smile on her audience to address them. Soon she turns to the piano from where she will tell so much of the story about her mother. As her long elegant fingers touch the keys, she reveals one of the most potent reasons for the success of her loving tribute to her mother. Having inherited her mother’s gift, because she took in the stories about her mother's life as Jura taught her to play the piano, Golabek can perfectly time her storytelling to create a seamless weave between words and music, underscoring with great sensitivity and, when necessary, allowing words or music to breathe alone.

It’s a story at once singular and familiar – as in the end perhaps all such stories are. Every Holocaust survivor’s story reveals a family life cruelly cut short, a childhood abruptly ended, heart-breaking separation from loved ones. Jura is no different, her mutual love for her parents and sisters is quite enough to make her story heart-breaking. But her particular heartbreak – and her salvation – is her passion for the piano music she was born to play.

Jura lives for her weekly piano lessons, dreaming of making her professional debut with Grieg’s piano concerto as she crosses Vienna to see her music professor. But this is the week that he has been ordered to give up his Jewish pupils and this is just the start of the restrictions and persecutions the Anschluss and the arrival of the Nazis brings to the city’s Jews. So no sooner has Golabek evoked the rich cultural life of pre-war Vienna, the salons, cafés and concert halls (cleverly illustrated by photographs and film projected on all those mirrors by projection designer Andrew Wilder, with lighting designer Christopher Rynne), than her mother’s dreams are shattered in the glass of Kristallnacht. Jura’s father is humiliated and forced to clean the streets, but there is a chance for just one of his girls to escape on the Kindertransport. The terrible choice must be made and falls on the young pianist.

Jura’s own evocations of her life, lovingly painted for her daughter as they sat together at the piano must have been extraordinarily vivid and reinforced by constant retelling too, for Golabek’s own retelling is spellbinding, tracing her mother’s journey across Europe, her arrival in pre-war Britain, and eventually, after a sojourn in the Sussex countryside, at the hostel in Willesden Lane, filled with other young people with similar stories.

Mona Golabek in The Pianist of Willesden Lane 04. Photo Credit Hershey Felder Presents.

The welcome she receives there, how she enthrals her new friends as she is drawn to play the hostel’s piano, what befalls her during the air raids and above all the kindness of strangers as well as her fellows, is the stuff from which Golabek and director/adaptor Hershey Felder mould such a rich show.

When Jura gets work in an East End garment factory, Golabek draws a striking analogy between the notes she plays on the keys of the piano and its strings, the textures of the music she weaves and the ‘music’ of the sewing machines on which she works, weaving garments at the factory.

Golabek’s musical selection is an eclectic delight, including Beethoven, Debussy, Chopin, Bach and many more from Jura’s classical repertoire, spiced with a couple of popular songs also dear to her mother’s heart – Gershwin’s Strike Up the Band and These Foolish Things (Eric Maschewitz and Jack Strachey).

It would be a shame to reveal all of Jura’s uplifting story, but there are delightful vignettes on the way – of Myra Hess at the piano in her famous lunchtime concerts at the National Gallery during and after the Blitz; of ‘our brave boys’ at rest and play in the piano bar where she gets to play for her living, to save her fingers from being ruined at those machines; and of the folk she meets in war-torn, bombed out London, her co-workers at the factory and her peers at the hostel all showing solidarity with the young pianist and rooting for her as she triumphs at last.

There is of course romance too, but again it would be telling to reveal the story of how Jura meets the man who will be the father of the children to whom she will one day pass on her talent and her love of music and her story.

So see – and hear – this beautiful, heart-warming show for yourself. It is especially poignant that it plays here through the week of Holocaust Memorial Day; and not surprising to hear that it has sold out for months in New York and toured the USA too, where Golabek educates young people about the Holocaust with a film, as well as this theatre piece based on her book The Children of Willesden Lane.

By Judi Herman

The Pianist of Willesden Lane runs until Saturday 27 February, 7.30pm & 2.30pm, £22.50-£40, at St James Theatre, 12 Palace St, SW1E 5JA; 0844 264 2140.

Watch a brief extract from the show below:

To find out more about all the projects in which Mona Golabek and her family are involved, including the documentaries, I am a Pianist and Finding Lea Tickotsky, and the book The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport – A Memoir of Music, Love and Survival by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, visit

Mona Golabek talks about The Pianist of Willesden Lane, the moving memoir of her mother – concert pianist and Kindertransport child - that she brings to the stage for its UK premiere this January

The Pianist of Willesden play 2016 Adapted by Hershey Felder from the book The Pianist of Willesden Lane, by Los Angelean pianist Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, this is the true story of Mona’s mother, Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist whose dreams about her Vienna concert debut are shattered by the Nazis in the 1938 Anschluss like the glass of Kristallnacht, as her family bravely places her on the Kindertransport to London. Golabek plays live on a concert grand in this moving one-woman show, the London run of which coincides with Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday 27 January. Judi Herman talks to Golabek about The Pianist of Willesden Lane to coincide with its UK premiere.

What made you decide to make the book into a one-woman play?

"My path crossed with Hershey Felder, quite a genius in his particular genre and he took me under his wing, believed in the story and adapted the book for the stage.  He helped me to find an inner voice, to inhabit the story and the characters and become my mother in a way – I do become her, imagining her in that story and taking the audience on that journey."

It’s extraordinary to play your own mother, particularly in this circumstance with this very emotional story – is that quite hard for you?

"It’s a very powerful statement to make and people ask me how I’m able to do this night after night. My answer is, this is a privilege and I think it’s become my destiny in a way. When I was a little girl my mother taught me piano and she always told me each piece of music tells a story and in those lessons she told me she told me the story of how she got out on that train and grew up in Willesden Green as a Jewish refugee and how the kindness of that community and the British people was the reason that I, as a little child, was alive.  They saved my life, these people! So I’m coming back to London to say thank you. I’m bringing the story home."

Was the Willesden Lane hostel Jewish, as the matron was a Mrs Cohen, and were all the children Jewish?

"Yes all the children in the hostel were Jewish.  There were all sorts of kids, 30 of them from different parts of Europe."

So is the play a dramatisation of the book?

"It’s an adaptation. The book follows many of the characters who landed up in Willesden Lane.  My mother of course was the primary character.  The play at 90 minutes is a condensation, with strong elements of music."

To me the idea of the music, which your mother handed on to you, sounds so powerful. You are also a very accomplished pianist, which you’ve inherited from her. How did you choose the pieces that you use in the show?

"The music was very much integral to what my mother learned along the way.  So for example the Grieg Piano concerto in A Minor that is so important in this show, this story, was the piece she dreamed of making her debut with when she was a little girl on the way to her piano lessons."

The Steinway that you’re playing in the show is spectacular – is it a special family Steinway?

"All Steinways are special to perform on, though it’s not a special instrument from that time period. It’s a great honour for me to be a Steinway artist. This is a kind of love letter to the piano and to Steinway. Because my mother was a poor refugee girl, she dreamed of playing, making her debut, on a Steinway. She went to hear Dame Myra Hess playing on a Steinway and, that was an extraordinary moment for her. She talked to me about going to hear (Dame) Myra Hess in the war years all the time.  She went to hear Clifford Curzon at the Wigmore Hall and Sir John Barbirolli."

As well the stage show, you have developed a documentary film from your book, is that right?

"Yes, that’s right. We have been shooting I am a Pianist all round America in many different cities where I bring this story to young students. They read the book and create projects around it and experience the show and we’ve been filming that and getting student and teacher reactions, bringing them the story of a Jewish teenager of 70 years ago, which we have found very relevant to young people today."

It’s wonderfully evocative for us here to have a story called The Pianist of Willesden Lane, for London Jews anyway. Willesden is a part of North West London many Jews know – it has been a rather Jewish area.  But of course that name would mean rather less to people round the world, particularly in America. As you say you are indeed bringing the story home.

"You’re absolutely right. I’ve been criss-crossing America bringing a story most people didn’t know about, the story of the Kindertransport. Holocaust education is not mandatory across America, only in certain States, New York, California, New Jersey, Illinois, for example.  So for a broad spectrum of American students in the 21st century, this was their first studying of the time period of this particular storyline. But the most important thing that I always say is that it’s a universal story. It’s being played out now again as we see the terrible movement of refugees and we’re being challenged now today, just as the British people were so extraordinary to take these children in, to give them homes and shelter."

From our point of view here in the UK it couldn’t be more timely, as your run takes in 27 January, Holocaust Memorial Day. As we lose the generation that lived through the Holocaust, the survivors themselves, you, as the second generation, sharing what’s been handed on to you is so vital. Are you an only child?

"I had the most wonderful sister in the world, Rene, but we lost her at an early age. I raised her children and they are all taking on this legacy and feel very deeply about it. One of them actually made a film in Poland about my father’s side of the family. It’s called Finding Lea Tickotsky and it’s been shown herein the USA on CBS."

Let’s go back to the play and the relationships you show in it. You never met your grandmother and yet you must feel you know her.

"Yes, I know her through my mother, and my grandmother figures in the show."

So you play her too, and your mother’s sisters, your aunts… Tell me about your father.

"That would be giving too much about the show. My mother was torn between two men…"

So there’s a lot more to it than just the story of the music. You narrate the story and play the men too?

"I do jump into some characters. The hardest thing for me is my accent. My mother had the most beautiful accent – British tinged with Viennese. I always said she was a cross between English tea and Viennese Sachertorte! I hope the British people will forgive me for my British accent – and my German accent. I hope they will understand that I’m just a daughter and a concert pianist coming back to say thank you for everything. That’s really what this is about."

By Judi Herman

The Pianist of Willesden Lane runs Wednesday 20 January – Saturday 27 February, 7.30pm & 2.30pm. £22.50-£40. St James Theatre, 12 Palace St, SW1E 5JA; 0844 264 2140.

To find out more about all the projects in which Mona Golabek and her family are involved, including the documentary films, I am a Pianist and Finding Lea Tickotsky, and the book The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport – A Memoir of Music, Love and Survival by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, visit

Review: Pure Imagination ★★★★ – Judi Herman enters the tune-fuelled world of Leslie Bricusse

© Annabel Vere If like me, you relished the toothsome trip round Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory in the 1971 movie musical of Roald Dahl's dark and delicious children's classic, you'll have no problem identifying the title of this equally moorish compilation of the words and music of Leslie Bricusse.

Gene Wilder's pitch-perfect Willie Wonka sang the song like a silky caress in the film and, as the programme informs us, it's been covered by stars including Michael Feinstein, Sammy Davis Jr, Jamie Cullum and Mariah Carey, and featured on TV shows ranging from Glee to Family Guy.

The joy of the man's genius, as explored and celebrated in this warm hug of a compilation show, is not just the range of fine singers attracted to Bricusse's work – it's the range of the work itself. The palpable delight in the auditorium comes as much from surprise at the rediscovery of yet another all-time favourite from the composer/lyricist's extraordinary back catalogue, as from the execution and charm of these five well-chosen performers.

Think Bond themes ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘You Only Live Twice’ (written with John Barry and Anthony Newley); cheerful, upbeat numbers like ‘On a Wonderful Day Like Today’ and ‘Out of Town’ (Housewives' Choice memories anyone?); inspirational anthems like Nina Simone's spine tingler ‘Feeling Good’ and Sir Harry Secombe's feel-good hit ‘If I Ruled the World’. There are also comedy novelty numbers, including Oscar-winning ‘Talk to the Animals’ from Dr Dolittle and ‘My Old Man's a Dustman’, which topped the charts on three continents; and of course there are the love songs, often with a specific original context, such as ‘Can You Read My Mind?’, the love number from the film Superman.

It’s good to be reminded not just of the man's music but also of his musicals. Bricusse seems to have a penchant for Victoriana and the Edwardian age, for his musicals on stage and screen include the Julie Andrews vehicle Victor/Victoria, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Dickens adaptations Scrooge and Pickwick. Then there’s Sherlock Holmes – The Musical, which yields a great excuse for a jolly old Cockney knees-up with showstopper 'Down the Apples 'n' Pears'.

But this show is stuffed with showstoppers and wonderful curiosities. Did you know that Bricusse wrote clever lyrics to Henry Mancini's Pink Panther Theme? It's wonderfully realised here as a segue from ‘Talk to the Animals’, where designer Tim Goodchild thinks pink and lithe Giles Terera glides round the stage lashing his tail while pursued by the rest of the company – complete with raincoats and magnifying glasses of course. The man writes lyrics to die for – perhaps literally in ‘Goldfinger’  – "He's the man, the man with the Midas touch, a spider's touch, such a cold finger … For a golden girl knows when he's kissed her, it's the kiss of death from Mister Goldfinger".

© Annabel Vere

Happily all five members of the company – Terera as the Joker (a character from The Smell of the Greasepaint – The Roar of the Crowd), Dave Willetts as the Man (adding a lovely depth of emotion and gravitas in numbers including ‘Who Can I Turn To’ and ‘Once in a Lifetime’), Siobhan McCarthy as the Woman, Niall Sheehy as the Boy and Julie Atherton as the Girl – make sure their audience can hear every precious word. And they all manage to work up a head of emotional steam in the brief connections they have with each other, song on song. Versatile Terera is not just a performer with emotional depth (as seen during the number ‘What Kind of Fool Am I?’) and a lovely sense of fun (‘The Candy Man’) but a lovely mover too and Matthew Cole sets numbers around him to give him his head (or should that be feet!).

The powerful six-strong band, arranged to the side of the stage, feels like part of the cast and does Bricusse’s wonderful range of styles proud. MD Michael England, while at, and occasionally away from, the piano takes centre stage, generously sharing his stool with the performers.

So although designer Tim Goodchild has provided a swirling backdrop that can frame video and still images and morphs usefully to suggest the Bond credits, he has wisely kept the scenery simple to frame the talents of the cast – a swirl of music round the edge of the stage floor, reflecting the backdrop, to suggest the size of the composer’s oeuvre, and angular chairs in different styles and poster colours.

The evening aroused my curiosity about early shows such as The Smell of the Greasepaint… along with Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, surely due for a revival. And it’s great to report that the man is still writing. I’m just as curious to know more about his as yet unperformed new musical Sunday Dallas after enjoying the fun of ‘Hollywood Wives’, a number from the show that evokes the late great Jackie Collins, as it’s staged here featuring a Hollywood Diva and her claque, pursued by adoring males seeking selfies with her. I'm also happy to say that Bricusse’s 2009 biographical musical Sammy, about his friend and fine interpreter of so many of his songs, Sammy Davis Jr, is bound for London. Meanwhile there is this chance to get to know and enjoy a terrific selection from Bricusse’s songbook – even though it does not feature his 1973 song ‘Chutzpa’!

By Judi Herman

Pure Imagination runs until Saturday 17 October. 7.30pm & 2.30pm. £15-£50. St James Theatre, 12 Palace St, SW1E 5JA; 084 4264 2140.

Review: You Won’t Succeed on Broadway if You Don’t Have Any Jews – ★★★

You Won’t Succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews, St James Theatre, 2015★★★ After the recent success of Bad Jews, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you won’t succeed in getting a show at St James Theatre if it doesn’t have the word "Jews" in the title, because now comes You Won’t Succeed on Broadway if You Don’t Have Any Jews. This compilation show is fresh from its own successful run in Tel Aviv, complete with a cast of 18 – most of whom are  talented young triple threats (they sing, they dance, they act) – and featuring Jackie Marks, an original cast member of Les Mis and one of the first to play Fantine (the audience loved her singing 'I Dreamed a Dream'). For those who follow The X Factor, it also features Lloyd Daniels, sixth season finalist and headliner on a sell-out X Factor tour.

“As Dorothy Parker once said,” roughly in her words (though not to her boyfriend as Cole Porter has it in the opening line of ‘Just One of Those Things’), “this is the kind of thing that will appeal to people who like this kind of thing.” The idea of a canter through the considerable contribution that Jewish composer/lyricists have made to the Broadway musical is alluring and raises expectations with that witty title taken from a show-stopping comedy number in Monty Python’s Spamalot (penned by non-Jewish partnership Eric Idle and John Du Prez). It’s just that here the story is told by a rather portentous voice-over, while a screen is lowered with visual aids, some old photos and deft cartoon sketches  of those creatives, often at the piano. Each decade gets its own voice-over and image montage.

The narrative is confusing too; touching on songs and whole musicals from which we’ll hear nothing in the show, but mentioning others that will feature, without segueing logically from the last subject of the narrative into the next song and dance. After a while you learn to control the expectation created and go with the flow, but I was disappointed that Sondheim, for one, despite being hailed for his extraordinary range of creations from Company to Sweeney Todd and so much more, was restricted to just the lyrics of ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses’ and one number of his own, ‘Getting Married Today’, undeniably a brilliant and intricate patter song, but not exactly representative of the man’s genius.

And if it had been left to that 18-strong cast to tell the story, I think it would all have moved a lot more smoothly and swiftly. There is much to enjoy, especially where the context of the number is evident. I may have found it hard to appreciate a mash-up of Lerner and Loewe’s 'I Could Have Danced all Night' from My Fair Lady and 'Lusty Month of May' from the pair’s Camelot, but  I fell in love with the ruthlessly self-deprecating, witty 'Four Jews in a Room' from William Finn’s March of the Falsettos and would love to get to see the whole show.

I did appreciate the chance to enjoy 'All Good Gifts' again from Stephen Schwartz’s Godspell, the bittersweet songs from Jonathan Larsson’s Rent and a number from Parade that nicely illustrated the deeply troubling drama of Jason Robert Brown’s story of racial hatred in America’s Deep South. And watching the parade of Jewish musical genius was a reminder of how many successful Jewish songwriting partnerships there have been and still are.

The company execute Chris Whittaker’s rather literal choreography with style, enthusiasm and panache, and musical director Inga Davis-Rutter’s band of nine produce a rich, plangent sound with dominating strings providing that “Jewish” echo, thanks to Davis-Rutter’s own orchestrations. As a programme note recalls, Cole Porter is indeed claimed to have said “The secret to success on Broadway is to write Jewish songs” and this show testifies to that. And judging by the applause, laughter, clapping along and even standing ovations the night I saw it, it is the kind of thing that appeals to a lot of folk.

By Judi Herman

You Won’t Succeed on Broadway if You Don’t Have Any Jews runs until Saturday 5 September. 7.30pm & 2.30pm. £15-£35. St James Theatre, 12 Palace St, SW1E 5JA; 084 4264 2140.


Review: Bad Jews – Joshua Harmon's new play about faith, family and funnies

© Robert Workman – Bad Jews Daphna is angry. She’s back from her Ivy League college and is storming petulantly around a claustrophobically small studio apartment like a disgruntled toddler. Her cousin Jonah (Joe Coen) tries relentlessly to ignore the young tyrant as she moans about the fact that Jonah’s brother Liam (Ilan Goodman) has missed their Poppy’s (grandpa) funeral because he was skiing in Aspen with his girlfriend, who isn’t even Jewish. This opening scene sets the audience up perfectly for what’s to come – an hour and a half of increasingly un-passive aggression that’s full of belly laughs.

This new show from 31-year-old Joshua Harmon made its debut in New York in 2012 and was such a hit that in the past year it has become the third-most-produced play in America. The New York-born playwright conceived the idea for Bad Jews just over a decade ago after he attended a “depressingly unmoving” Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial). The service involved grandchildren of Holocaust survivors offering up dispassionate dialogues about their relatives’ traumatising experiences. This got the budding writer considering what it means to be a young Jew in the modern world and whether we should strive to keep alive our religious beliefs and cultures in our children or work towards a religionless and nationless world. Because at the end of the day, should who we are matter?

© Robert Workman – Bad Jews

This issue, while never tackled head-on, throws up various viewpoints throughout as the characters defend their religious and familial loyalties. Daphna – a pushy, furiously sincere “super-Jew” portrayed skilfully by Jenna Augen – and Liam – incredibly bright, but atheist part-time and Jewish when it suits him – bicker and manipulate their way through scenes, ultimately fighting for Poppy’s Chai (symbol for life) necklace, which comes with a heart-breaking backstory.

Kudos must also be given to set designer Richard Kent, whose level of detail plays as huge a part in drawing you in as the actors do. The studio apartment and entrance hallway where Bad Jews takes place is solidly constructed, with minutiae, such as plug sockets, bins and even a leaflet under the neighbour’s door, that make it satisfyingly easy to forget you’re watching from a theatre seat and become fully absorbed in the fast-paced dialogue.

© Robert Workman – Bad Jews

There’s a great comic moment in Bad Jews when Gina Bramhill’s Melody, Liam’s girly gentile girlfriend coyly professes to a fiery Daphna: “It doesn’t matter to me that you’re Jewish,” in a bid to explain we’re all human after all. But it backfires and a leer of sheer disgust remoulds Daphna’s brow as she spits, “It matters to me!” This is just a snippet of Harmon’s deft penmanship – the way he can hint at importance of identity while maintaining a sense of humour. And he does well not to force his personal opinions on the audience, merely planting the seeds of ideas and leaving people to go away thinking about their own. It’s a play full of depth, quick-wit and poignancy. Bad Jews has it all.

By Danielle Goldstein

Bad Jews runs until Saturday 28 February. 2.30pm & 7.30pm. £10-£30. St James Theatre, 12 Palace St, SW1E 5JA; 084 4264 2140.

© Robert Workman – Bad Jews

© Robert Workman – Bad Jews