In conversation: Henry Naylor

The award-winning playwright discusses his double bill about the Syrian conflict and 1936 Munich Olympics

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Borders/Games is the new double bill from playwright Henry Naylor, currently playing at London’s Arcola theatre. Borders, he explains, is “the story of the 21st century in 70 minutes – 9/11, bombs, Bono and Bin Laden”. While Games, set in Berlin, 1936, is about “Europe fracturing, antisemitism rising and right-wing populism surging”. Judi Herman, an old friend of Naylor’s from the days when both of them contributed to BBC Radio 4’s topical comedy show Week Ending, caught up with him to discuss his move from comedy to drama. Find out how he was inspired, for his most recent plays, to write about the plight of a contemporary Syrian graffiti artist struggling to use her art to bring down the Assad regime. He pairs her story with that of two promising German Jewish women athletes, who faced horrific prejudice in their bid to compete for their country in the 1936 Olympics.

Photo by Rosalind Furlong

Borders/Games runs until Friday 21 December. 7pm (Mon-Sat), 2.30pm (Sat). £10-£22 (per play). Arcola Theatre, E8 3DL. 020 7503 1646. www.arcolatheatre.com

In conversation: Jenna Augen

The American star of Bad Jews returns to JR OutLoud to discuss her latest role

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It’s the season for Chanukah fun, and laugh-out-loud slapstick comedy with music doesn’t come any funnier than the smash hit show The Comedy About A Bank Robbery. Producer Kenny Wax and Mischief Theatre have just announced an extension until at least November 2019! And the good news is that Jenna Augen is to continue in the role of resourceful bank receptionist Ruth Monaghan. Judi Herman and Jenna last chatted on JR OutLoud when she was one of the four stars of another smash hit – Bad Jews – so Judi was delighted to meet up again to talk farce, diamond heists, bad puns, accents, Jewish roles and much more.

The Comedy About A Bank Robbery runs until Sunday 3 November 2019. 7.30pm, 2.30pm (Sat only), 3pm (Sun only). £10-£72.50. Criterion Theatre, W1V 9LB. 084 4815 6131. www.bankrobberycomedy.com

In conversation: Robert Neumark Jones

The London actor talks about his role in Stephen Laughton’s One Jewish Boy

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“With the shadow of hatred festering at its very core,” writes Stephen Laughton of his latest play, “[One Jewish Boy] is a bittersweet comedy fuelled by antisemitism.” To discuss this and more, Judi Herman caught up with actor Robert Neumark Jones, who plays Jesse, the title role in this two-hander. The pair delve into Laughton’s story of one Jewish boy and how his his life, love, family and marriage are affected by antisemitism.

One Jewish Boy* runs Tuesday 11 December – Saturday 5 January. 7.30pm, 3pm (phone for matinee dates). £18.50, £15.50 concs. Old Red Lion, EC1V 4NJ. 033 3012 4963. www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk

*Play contains strong language

In conversation: Stewart Clarke

The Fiddler on the Roof actor talks about starring in the new production

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Stewart Clarke stars in Trevor Nunn’s new production of Fiddler on the Roof, playing Perchik the student revolutionary who falls for Tevye’s second daughter Hodl. As the much-loved musical about the poor Jewish milkman, his wife and five daughters by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick prepares to open at London’s Menier Chocolate Factory*, Stewart sits down with JR’s arts editor Judi Herman. The pair discuss tradition and revolution, Anatevka and Siberia, and the resonance of the story of Tevye and his family that has touched hearts and minds worldwide.

Fiddler On the Roof runs Friday 23 November – Saturday 9 March 2019. 8pm (Tue-Sat), 3.30pm (Sat & Sun). £45-£49.50, £39.50 concs. Menier Chocolate Factory, SE1 1RU. 020 7378 1713. www.menierchocolatefactory.com

*Performances are currently sold out, but check the Menier website for returns and to register for news of extra performances or transfer plans. Returns on the day of performances are possible for those able to register in person at the box office (opens 6pm for evening performances and 1pm for matinees).

In conversation: Ben Nathan

Semites creator and actor Ben Nathan talks about exploring the common ground between Palestinians and Israelis

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In a world of echo chambers, fake news and fear, Ben Nathan’s Semites challenges polarised perspectives by exploring the one indisputable thing that both Palestinians and Israelis have in common: that they are all semites. A term that is often misused. In this thought-provoking new play Nathan invites you to leave your preconceptions at the door and open your eyes, ears and heart. He spoke to Judi Herman about how and why he came to create this show, in which he and fellow actor Lara Sawalha speak verbatim the words of his interviewees of all persuasions in Israel and Palestine. Although their conversation was recorded before the terrible events in Pittsburgh, they only serve to highlight the importance of this vital sort of dialogue.

Read our review of Semites on the JR blog.

Semites runs until Saturday 3 November. 7.30pm. £15, £12 concs. The Bunker, SE1 1RU. 020 7234 0486. http://bunkertheatre.com

Semites then runs in Bristol Tuesday 6 - Saturday 10 November. £12, £10 concs. The Loco Klub, Bristol, BS1 6QH. 011 7941 3857. www.locobristol.com


In conversation: Adam Godley

The Lehman Trilogy actor speaks about starring in the National Theatre production

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As the epic story of the three Jewish brothers from Germany, who founded the company that changed the world, continues to storm London, Judi Herman speaks to Jewish actor Adam Godley. The National Theatre production of this trilogy is performed entirely by a mighty trio of actors: Simon Russell Beale, Ben Miles and Godley himself. They play not only the Lehman brothers, but all their descendants and everyone else in this English version, which they helped to develop with adaptor and playwright Ben Powers, as well as director Sam Mendes, from the Italian original by Stefano Massini.

Photo by Mark Douet

All performances are currently sold out, but tickets will be available on the day in person from the box office (at 9.30am) and during Friday Rush, when a number of £20 tickets are released for all NT shows every Friday at 1pm.

The Lehman Trilogy runs until Saturday 20 October. 7pm, 1pm (Tue & Sat only). £15-£67. National Theatre, SE1 9PX. 020 7452 3000. www.nationaltheatre.org.uk

 

In conversation: Barry Humphries

Aussie performers Barry Humphries and Meow Meow discuss their show, Weimar Cabaret

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As Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret prepares for take-off at the Barbican next week, Judi Herman speaks to the stars of the show. Australian actor, artist and comedian (you may well recognise him as Dame Edna Everage) Humphries and fellow Aussie – cabaret performer Melissa Madden Gray, who’s best known as Meow Meow. The pair discuss their passion for the raucous jazz of 1920s/30s Berlin – the backbone of the musical – and the composers and lyricists who were deemed ‘degenerate’ by the Nazis. They also talk about the music’s influence on the Australian, European and American music scenes and Humphries reveals why he gravitated towards Jewish boys at school.

Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret runs Wednesday 11 – Sunday 29 July. 7.45pm, 2.30pm (Wed & Sat exc. 11 Jul), 3pm (Sun only) £19-£75. Barbican Theatre, EC2Y 8DS. www.barbican.org.uk

Read our review of Barry Humphries’ Weimar Cabaret on the JR blog.

In conversation: David Charles Abell

Musical director and orchestrator David Charles Abell discusses his work on Kiss Me Kate

  ©Guy Farrow

©Guy Farrow

As Opera North revives its acclaimed 2015 production of Kiss Me Kate, the humorous reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew by Bella and Sam Spewack, Judi Herman speaks to the show's musical director and orchestrator David Charles Abell. He discusses the Spewacks, the brilliant Jewish husband and wife team, revealing the role the Spewacks played in getting Cole Porter onboard to write the musical that revived his career and is arguably his best and most popular work.

Kiss Me Kate runs Saturday 23 – Saturday 30 June. 7.30pm (Mon- Sat) 2.30pm (Thu & Sat only). £10-£105. London Coliseum, WC2N 4ES. 020 7845 9300. www.operanorth.co.uk

The show then tours to Scotland Wednesday 4 – Saturday 7 July. 7.15pm, 2.15pm (Sat only). £15.50-£49.50. Edinburgh Festival Theatre, EH8 9FT. 013 1529 6000. www.operanorth.co.uk

In conversation: Phil Willmott

Phil Willmott talks about directing the European premiere of Arthur Miller’s last play

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In two scenes of Finishing the Picture recorded exclusively for JR OutLoud, we meet the outrageous husband and wife acting coaches, based on Lee and Paula Strasberg. In the first extract coach Flora, played by Nicky Goldie, is complaining to producer Phillip, played by Oliver Le Sueur, about ‘horrific’ working conditions and disrespect. Later you’ll hear Tony Wredden as Jerome, Paula’s pretentious husband. The action takes place on a movie set and director Phil Willmott reveals just how personal Arthur Miller gets in this autobiographical play inspired by the filming of The Misfits, Marilyn Monroe’s last movie, for which he wrote the screenplay; and just how resonant the vulnerable star’s treatment is today and the ‘Me Too’ movement.

Finishing the Picture runs Tuesday 12 June – Saturday 7 July. 7.30pm (Tue-Sat), 3pm (Sat & Sun only). £18-£20, £16-£18 concs. Finborough Theatre, SW10 9ED. 01223 357 851. www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

In conversation: Jessica Martin

London actor Jessica Martin talks political plays, Spitting Image and graphic novels

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Jessica Martin plays Westminster Council leader Shirley Porter in Gregory Evans’ dark satire charting the events behind the Westminster ‘homes for votes’ scandal of the 1980s. She tells Judi Herman more about the resonance for 2018 of a play staged in a theatre barely five minutes from Grenfell Tower. Martin describes the scandal as “a real-life House of Cards situation” and Porter as “a north London Marie Antoinette”. The Spitting Image star also gives a taste of her Edwina Currie, and we get a peek at some of the exciting graphic novels she writes and illustrates too.

Shirleymander runs Wednesday 23 May – Saturday 16 June. 7.30pm (Mon-Sat), 2.30pm (Thu & Sat only). £25, £15 concs. The Playground Theatre, W10 6RQ. 020 8960 0110. www.theplaygroundtheatre.london