Sally Llewellyn's new play The Barrier at the Park Theatre contains some perceptive social observation, but ultimately lacks depth
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
In Stamford Hill, North London, in the early 21st century, two communities live side-by-side. Shalev and Malka are strictly orthodox Hasidic Jews, whose wish is to be separate from the rest of society in order to focus on god's commands. They've recently moved, and Shalev is feeling extremely vexed. A major religious rule forbids switching on electricity on the holy day of Shabbos (sunset Friday to sunset Saturday), but the people next door, who are not Jewish, have a security light on their wall, which comes on at night when anyone is near their front door - but also when anyone is near Shalev's front door. When the neighbours aren't willing to help, Shalev finds his own solution. His action astounds Cas, the liberal-minded neighbour, and her husband Sam. The play explores the tensions which surface, as Cas finds no support from her mother Roxy and step-father Harry, and less and less from Sam, Malka almost loses her equipoise, and a violent alcoholic called Mussolini threatens the peace outside. Will Cas change the light? What hope is there that the strains within and between the families, and on the street, can be as easily resolved ...?