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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

My Rabbi

Sum theatre

Genre: Drama

Venue: New Town Theatre


Low Down

Aria and Jake are friends from whenever but their spiritual journey, one to Rabbi the other to devout Muslim causes conflict that both seek to resolve.


This is an exceptionally well written piece that is exceptionally well performed. It begins with Aria and Jake performing their prayers before they meet in the street. An opportunity to meet up and talk over old times finds two more mature people talking over what happened between them which is easier than the tenseness of who they have become. Despite that divide they manage to talk things through until, after another attack on a Synagogue Aria goes in search of his terrified friend, Jake. In between are the journeys of two boys who become men through very similar but polar opposite religious experiences. The final scene is the beginning of a reconciliation that could do with being rolled out… throughout the world.

Both Kayvon Kelly and Joel Bernbaum are highly capable actors and this is a broken narrative that demands of its actors faultless delivery. The tight nature of this two hander sees both take on other roles and with incredible authenticity they use gesture, lighting and voice to become who it is they wish next. It works exceptionally well and they both deliver.

The stage has very little upon it – 2 chairs, a mat, a table and a bowl. With lighting used to illuminate and hide this is a very effective base from which the action springs. At all times we are being enthralled and enjoying a performance that will hold you for a moment and then moves you swiftly onto the next issue and set of circumstances.

The subject matter of the piece is particularly strong and the religiosity of each character well defined. I found the relationship between both – when bickering, falling out, larking around and seeking some form of common topics to discuss – believable and likeable.

At its core is humanity and as we all know what man does to man often leads to the type of interrogation that Aria suffers when returning home to Canada from the Middle East. And yet here is where I think it may have an issue as a narrative. We see how they end up on the opposite sides of the divide but we get to the point where they may be able to see a way through it and we stop. I was hoping it would go on just a little longer or that we should start here and accept they were once close friends and a whole lot of stuff happened.

That having been said it is an excellent piece of theatre. It has well rounded characters and acting that could studied as well as enjoyed.