I enjoyed the political slant of the play, even though, as Garth James says, it does veer into soap opera at times. But what I found so interesting was the way the play showed up the blind faith many British Jews have towards the state of Israel. I cannot see this playing in New York unless it was very off Off-Broadway. Pity as I feel the message needs to be digested by them and in particular because they have the biggest clout and influence on the way Israel handles itself towards its neighbours. - rds
26 Jun 11
This play starts well. We are in the home of North London kosher caterers on the eve of the funeral of their son who has died fighting for Israel in Gaza. The Rabii calls to warn the family that he anticipates protestors – other Jews angry at the boy’s sisters’ involvement in the UN investigation of that very same conflict. The trouble is, playwright Ryan Craig then throws in the kitchen sink!
The play has its moments, but it is too contrived and therefore often implausible. We move from the set-up to soap opera to a serious political debate to melodrama. Along the way, we get business problems, relationship issues and a few too many patronising history lessons. The only unpredictable thing in the evening is the arrival of daughter Ruth’s boss Stephen - though this is also somewhat implausible, it does provide an opportunity for a reasonably objective political debate. The best drawn characters are the sister and other brother, both played well by Susannah Wise and Alex Waldmann. The problem with the rest, particularly Henry Goodman’s father and Tilly Tremayne’s mother, is that they are stereotypes.
You’d think the staging in-the-round (you’re a fly on the wall of the living room with visible corridors leading to the rest of the house) would provide an intimacy and heighten your engagement with the story and its characters, but I’m afraid it doesn’t. I wasn’t in the slightest bit moved or emotionally engaged, even from the front row in its most heartfelt moments. I found the frequent Jewish words and references a rather clumsy way of engaging a largely Jewish audience whilst making the non-Jewish audience feel excluded.
Yet another disappointing new play at the National, I’m afraid.
- Gareth James
27 May 11
Although the themes are worth airing, this was a poorly written play by standards. Ryan Craig knows better - so why didn't someone impose some discipline on his script? He seems to have put in everything he thought that might be relevant - often without developing it. And what he did develop was hard to believe. Thank goodness for good performances, which brought us back after the interval. But - please can we have these themes addressed in a good play next time?? - Theatre enthusiast
20 Mar 11
I might quibble that it owes far too much to Arthur Miller... David Rosenberg is a construct of Willy Loman and Joe Keller; but, The Holy Rosenbergs grips and the acting is exceptional. I especially loved Tilly Tremayne's beautifully natural performance as Lesley Rosenberg. I too felt that my admiration for the play's construction just outweighed my emotional involvement. On the whole, a memorable evening at the Cottesloe - Philip Swan
19 Mar 11
Really enjoyed this entertaining and involving piece of theatre. Very much worth watching, specially for the storming performance from Henry Goodman.
I think the staging is a master stroke, putting you right in the action making each moment that much more personal.
Prefect for being in the round, plus there is a fantastic green carpet! - Thoma Elliott
18 Mar 11
Unfortunately this well acted play is let down by the staging where the audience are seated looking down in to the Rosenbergs family living room. This is a very bad idea as at times you the audience can not see the faces of the actors as they have to have their backs to you at some time or another. This production would work better viewed from the front on the normal Cottesloe stage and future NT directors and designers should note to stop producing plays in the round where it is not appropriate as it is quite irritating and just a gimmick that did not work. - Ils
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