Fringe Online 2021
Directed by Kennedy Bloomer and Toby Hampton. Producer Zoe Weldon. Composer Matthew Ballantyne, Set and Costume Designer Sorcha Corcoran, Lighting and Sound Designer Gianluca Zona. Video team ShootMedia Executive Producer Elliott Cranmer, Producer Joshua Valanzuolo, Production Manager Nishita Ruparelia, DOP Harry Andrews, Camera Operator Adam Newland, Sound Recordist Jack Sandham. Till May 5th
King’s Head like Southwark Playhouse and a very few others have charged out of lockdown with filmed performances in their diminutive space. Jew-ish has rightly won raves. Edie Newman and Saul Boyer’s fearlessly goofy double-act about a double-act really ache corners of your body you felt inviolable.
Written by Boyer and Poppy Damon this 68 minute show comes with every possible health warning. If your genitals have a moral compass this one’s pointed south… ish and is morally infallible.
If you need convincing KH Online (every Thursday 1pm, a terrific series over a year’s worth of 30-minute talks) interviewed writers Boyer and Damon and co-director (with Toby Hampton) Kennedy Bloomer on 15th April. If that doesn’t convince you…
Jew… ish is a wondrously rude act formed out of desperate sex when everyone’s paired up. Yet again. And all those un-pc jokes you ever dreamed of. Oh and techniques you might remember from student days, heard next door. Doing amphetamines watching The Jungle Book. Bare necessities?
Crisply directed by Kennedy Bloomer and Toby Hampton, the play is inevitably far trickier than it appears, and it appears as spontaneous as a first-rate Fringe show. Composer Matthew Ballantyne’s music is particularly attractive as intro and outro; the set and costume designer Sorcha Corcoran keeps it zingy yet contained, Lighting and sound designer Gianluca Zona gives pause and punctuation – the play jump-cuts over time. Video team ShootMedia catch the liveness of the event whilst making it a permanent watchable record of a table tennis space that suggests worlds.
First the two have a couple of floor acts to warm up with.
‘Meghan Markle/make us sparkle’ intones Newman’s gender-neutral performer TJ with a YouTube Poly (Amory) and rubber inflatable buoy all about the Gaza strip and late capitalism. Sooo progressive. Luckily too there aren’t more rhymes.
But here’s weddings and funerals to make up for that, so good for break-ups and sex. Boyer’s Max and TJ have five years of history, like masturbating to TV when together. There’s dead zombie mums too, a hint of grief as comic routine.
Max is the failed go-solo of a half-good duo. Not TJ, Sam. But Sam’s off to get married. And Max’s Jew-ish act has to go solo. Call TJ. Again.
And TJ’s… a shiksa princess. Who learns guilt from Max. So ‘doing all kinds of genocide’ on a course bar the Holocaust with Momentum TJ’s now in rubber. Sooo progressive. And after pegging Max (it’s a bit unprintable) as the only unhooked man, they’re … well it was throttling him with a pair of tights (‘code red!!’) that ended it and she’s away though after lots of men and women – she misses his family. Cut.
Newman’s sassy goofiness endears with its switch to serious and shafts of adult behaviour Boyer’s Max can’t fathom.
But Boyer as Max owns an inventive plangency that can pull, well let’s say things out of …graves. This duo’s interaction especially overlapping dialogue is blissfully well-timed, indeed some appears improv. The KH talk really is a way to come down from this experience (you won’t want to) or a way to nerve yourself to it.
An excruciating double-best-person-act at Sam and Steph’s wedding follows, and they have to share a room after. Till Max’s grandmother and TJ’s favourite person Sadie dies. Funeral. Don’t diss Starmer, don’t say Corbyn’s been misrepresented… oh and Max is a barrister Not barista, and TJ a housewife
Max’s eulogy impersonating his grandmother’s ‘Non, je regrette rien’ briefly mixes nailing comedy and pathos recalling David Eldridge’s In Basildon where the family sing ‘I’m forever blowing bubbles’ or only two years ago at KH in a revival of David Greig’s Outlying Islands the three characters singing ‘On the trail of the lonesome pine’… Just weird in the cemetery. Then TJ punches Max in the throat and he can only communicate in cardboard signs….
But polyamory isn’t an open relationship. A year on (oops Sadie’s Stone Setting) they’re over each other so much they’re visiting a husband and wife therapist so …. And TJ’s hoping that visa application won’t find out her radical stuff on Facebook. Or that ‘shooting fire out of my vagina dressed as a manatee’ definitely cuts it as a skill for that elusive Green Card. Over dinner tricksy fate plays… and what DNA test? Who’s pulling strings, whose Tarot was that? You put it where?
There’s a wonderful riffing on those rom-com novels and dramas with appropriate Jewish endings. Oh and another you might recognize…
This is one of the wittiest but also truthful comedies about love, identity, sexual politics and gefilte fish I’ve seen. There’s much residual wisdom and you wonder what on earth will happen next. Which perhaps isn’t a bad question.