Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Jewbana is a solo show about ‘Susie’. Susie is many things a Miami native, Jewish, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a daughter in law, a best friend, an ex and an actress. It can be confusing. So many roles begged the question, who is Susie? Unlocked by gorging unwittingly on a pot infused key-lime pie, Susie transforms herself into all the major players in her life, who offer their own take on her. The result is absurdist, ribald and occasionally poignant comedy.
Is this another “look at me” show? Another “story of my struggle”? Does the Fringe need another coming-of-age solo show? Maybe, possibly, no, but also, in this case, yes…
This is not your average plea for understanding but a much more mature, developed and precisely well judged self deprecating piss-take that, through its inventive framing, becomes universal… As Susie Kreitman Taylor introduces us to her family, her mother-in-law, her ‘Ex’, her husband, teenage children, mother and sister, then we recognise people we all know, perhaps even our own family…
Taylor is an experienced actor on stage and screen with a long list of film, TV and stage credits. She trained as an actor in the US at Penn Sate University but then left the love of her life and moved to London and the Webber Douglas Academy, where she first met the loathsome ‘Ex’, and so the story kicks off. Inspired by these life experiences, this ‘dramedy’ offers a train crash of conflicting cultures and family politics. A self-confessed loud mouth Jew, she marries an even louder, even more opinionated Cuban Catholic – and therefore inherits his mother, as if her own wasn’t bad enough!
As the play begins, Taylor emerges in spangled lycra from a giant egg and cavorts gymnastically across the stage. It is plainly evident that we are in the realms of fantasy and absurdity. The set up is that a young acting company she is working with have fed her a key-lime pie, which she loves and over-indulges in, before realising that this is not a passover gift but a ‘pot-sover’ gift. High as a kite, she inverts her egg into a ‘bath’ and immerses herself.
Around the stage lie flat ‘eggs’, as she emerges and reaches under each egg she produces a simple prop or two to transform herself into someone from her family. Adopting their characters she delivers their opinion on herself, not always flattering for either of them. I wondered what her family would make of this, especially as she launches into her well observed impersonations of her teenage sons and then her gum chewing golf obsessed husband. But then, the minute the show is over, they appear, in on the joke and loving every minute of it. A balanced and brave family!
This is hard work to perform – physical, full on and brazen, but meticulously planned and delivered, sharp as a pin. A bizarre, madcap adventure of a show, something different for sure, but also something expertly performed and heart felt in its self-awareness and humour. Simply, an excellent show.