Chaim's Love Song by Marvin Chernoff is a dramatic, heart-warming and universal comedy from a uniquely Jewish perspective.
The idea of story telling from a Jewish perspective -and all the warmth, strength of community, humour and feisty backbone that is part of it (chutzpah!) – is an important element for director Brendan Cohen. "This is a universal play, it’s very funny and very moving in the mould of Neil Simon and Woody Allen; but it also goes to the heart of the modern Jewish community," he says. " I’m incredibly proud of my people and feel strongly about telling our stories. I love the Jewish tradition of using laughter and pathos to heal."
Cohen is a long term director who had recently been pulled into the torrid churning waters of musicals – which he loved. He returns now to the deep calm of a seven-actor play but admits that every production has its challenges and if it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right. "You learn how to work with a new group of individuals; you have to shape a team & a shared vision; you are working with a new writer and you learn to unpack their characters and themes and do justice to the script," he explains. "On a personal level, my biggest challenge is juggling my full time job as a secondary teacher with family (husband & father of two teenagers), and any fantasy of enough sleep. You find yourself shuffling priorities and breaking promises on a daily basis. "
Other important challenges involve the actors acquiring authentic accents: "… and I’m one of those audience squirmers who hates poor or unsustained accents," Cohen says. " Also, it’s a play which could easily descend into “talking heads”, another pet hate. So we’ve had to be creative with our staging without losing the soul of the play."
Chaim's Love Song is the story of an older Jewish man named Chaim (possibly the embodiment of the 'soul' of the play) and Kelly, a young Gentile woman, who not only share their stories but endeavour to find meaning in what can be a difficult world. They meet on a park bench in Brooklyn which allows memory scenes to be played introducing other characters to further the story. Chernoff introduces Tzawrah, a holocaust survivor thereby introducing and exploring this very important theme to the plot line of the play.
Cohen feels Chaim's Love Song holds some pretty clear universal messages – reminders about what matters in life. And the idea that it’s never too late to love, or to live. "It’s a beautifully constructed script. I think we’ve found the heart of it. I have a lot of respect for writers. I hope we’ve done it justice. "
According to their website, JYM theatre co. is Australia's ONLY Jewish musical theatre company. They are committed to high quality inclusive productions which provide a creative outlet for the Jewish community and beyond. Cohen has found complete satisfaction with his involvement and says: "My first experience with the company was fun, fulfilling and extremely positive. So I will keep coming back until they’re sick of me."
Chaim's Love Song is theatre at it's best – the characters are real, inviting, warm and funny so be prepared to plotz! "Live theatre remains an all-too-rare treat." says Cohen. "There is still nothing like it. This is a feel-good two hours you’ll remember & talk about & think about for a long time afterwards."
Chaim's love Song
September 1 – September 9
Phoenix Theatre Elwood
Book online at www.jymtheatre.com or call 0408 024 224