The hottest show in New York and Melbourne last year, award winning Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon, is back by popular demand. The all Australian production promises a night of ferocious verbal fire as Harmon explores what it means to be Jewish in today’s world.
Simon Corfield is back as Liam – a self-assured, liberal minded intellectual – but when he brings his shiksa girlfriend home to meet the family, things do not go as planned.
He prides himself on being an open minded and deep thinker, culturally inclusive with modern, forward thinking philosophies. This puts him in complete contrast with Daphna who represents an unquestioning belief in faith, tradition and ritual. Corfield describes Liam as not having a sense of humour, battles with a quick temper and believes he is always right.
“He takes himself very seriously, which makes for great comedy,” states Corfield. “He’s the golden boy of the Haber family and is in the process of getting his PHD in Japanese Youth Culture at an Ivy League university, a fact he won’t let anyone forget. He’s proud of his Jewish heritage but is vehemently apposed to actual religious practice, openly identifying as an atheist. His limited tender moments are reserved for his girlfriend, Melody. While many would see Liam as contemptible, I cannot help but admire his fierce determination to get what he wants. He reminds me of one of those friends who probably annoy you and get under your skin, but you remain friends because they are loyal, sweet, and all inclusive. He always tries to rationalise his arguments based on truth and intelligence, but doesn’t always succeed. I also connect with his outlook on humanity and religions place within it, that we are all one and should work together for a better future regardless of faith.”
Bad Jews is a story about family relationships, cultural identity, as well as grief, loss and legacy. When their beloved grandfather dies and a treasured family heirloom with religious significance is up for grabs in the Feygenbaum family, the question becomes, who is most deserving of it.
“Although Bad Jews focuses around two Jewish cousins battling it out for their grandfather’s heirloom, Harmon has managed to write a piece that reveals many truths about family, faith, and the current state of the world, explains Corfield. “Anyone who has family can relate to this play, the way we hold onto petty things in families and then use them against one another, the harsh judgements we most likely wouldn’t display in our everyday lives, the fights over wills and heirlooms, who deserves what more, and of course the differing in opinions when it comes to choosing your own path, be it religion or who you wish to marry.”
“While delving into a very realistic examination of the family dynamic, Harmon also comments on the future of religion’s place in society, its effects on society and what seems to be a dying need for upholding heritage – that to hold onto something too tightly can in the end be detrimental. Bad Jews is a special play because it highlights what we are capable of doing to one another when we stop listening to each other, when we judge others unfairly through our own misgivings, and how important it is to recognise and respect that every single person is on their own individual journey.”
After a hugely successful season at the Alex Theatre last year, Bad Jews makes its return and Corfield, who has been seen in Packed to the Rafters, COPS, Crownies, The Birth of Creation and Songs for the Fallen, was, of course, thrilled to hear it. “I had so much fun during the first season and am honoured I get to step into the shoes of Liam once again and show the rest of Australia this wonderful play,” he says. “I have many family and friends who are dying to see it again! There is so much greatness in this play, so much fast wit, physical comedy and poignant moments that you will only leave having laughed more, felt more and thought more. You always take more away with you the second time round.”
Although a very American play Harmon has managed to write a universal story which will resonant on a global level. “The characters, the arguments, the comedy, the philosophies, all somehow seem familiar and personal,” states Corfield, “There will be moments you will recognise, having witnessed them in your own family or experienced them yourself. It goes beyond being about America or being Jewish. Harmon cleverly uses the non-Jewish character of Melody to great affect and she is a brilliant in to accessing the play for a non-Jewish audience. The fast pace, the snappy dialogue and the many laugh out loud moments make this a great night out in the theatre regardless of your background.”
Harmon’s script tackles memory, identity and experience with outrageous behaviour and insults – his script is clever, funny and fearless. It’s a must see play! Who really is the bad Jew?
Bad Jews is directed by Gary Abrahams and stars Maria Angelico, Simon Corfield, Anna Burges and Matt Whitty.
April 27 – May 14