Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon is a fiercely dark comedy examining the impact of inheritance as three grandchildren come together following the death of their Grandfather. He was a holocaust survivor, his religious family heirloom is the focus of their attention and ultimately they fight as to who is the most worthy inheritor. Tempers fray and passions run high in the cramped cell like apartment whilst the acerbic tirades scald anyone within earshot; this finely crafted piece is also full of humour.
This is an outstanding production from director Michael Longhurst and the cast pace like caged animals waiting to strike within the detailed design Richard Kent. The fine company seize this script with great style. Jenny Augen as Daphna the "uber Jew" whose self righteousness plagues everyone around her, considers herself the most worthy of any religious artefact and her acid tongue keeps everyone at bay. Ilan Goodman as Liam is match fit for Daphna's venom and his desire to keep Melody (Gina Bramhill) his wholesome American non- Jewish girlfriend from the fight is futile. Joe Coen as Jonah, Liam's brother refuses to be drawn in, evidently years of being taken for granted and ignored ensuring his true feelings remain unspoken and yet his grief so powerful in the final moments.
This is a brutal, feral script with great soul; the searing observations of what religion actually means is deftly handled and the excellent performances ensure a fine balance; both challenging the audience and providing much food for thought. The Ustinov Season again tips its hat at the big guns and sails on to further glory.