Bad Jews

Previewed 18 March 2015, Opened 25 March 2015, Closed 11 July 2015 at the Arts Theatre in London
Returned 8 February 2016 to 19 March 2016 at the Haymarket Theatre Royal in London

The return of Michael Longhurst's acclaimed production of Joshua Harmon's new play Bad Jews to London for a strictly limited season prior to a major national tour.

A beloved grandfather has died and a treasured family heirloom with religious significance is up for grabs. But who is most deserving of it? Bossy, overbearing, fanatically religious Daphna? Her wealthy cousin Liam who’s just returned from skiing with his non-Jewish girlfriend Melody? Or Jonah, his brother, who would prefer not to get involved in the fight? A cramped Manhattan apartment becomes the setting for a viciously hilarious quarrel about family, faith and legacy as the contenders set at each other’s throats on the night after the funeral.

The cast for this season here at the Haymarket Theatre features Ilan Goodman as 'Liam' who is reprising his role from the original 2014 staging. He is joined by Ailsa Joy, Antonia Kinlay and Jos Slovick. Directed by Michael Longhurst with designs by Richard Kent, lighting by Richard Howell and sound by Adrienne Quartly. Michael Longhurst's West End directing credits include the Royal Court Theatre's production of Nick Payne's play Constellations (Duke of York's Theatre 2013).

Joshua Harmon's Bad Jews returns to the West End following an extended season at the Arts Theatre which previewed from 18 March 2015, opened on 25 March 2015 and closed on 11 July 2015. The production was originally seen at the studio space at Bath's Theatre Royal in 2014 and at London's St James Theatre in 2015. The original Bath 2014 / Arts Theatre 2015 cast featured Joe Coen as 'Jonah', Ilan Goodman as 'Liam', Jenna Augen as 'Daphna' and Gina Bramhill as 'Melody'.

When this production was seen in London at the St James Theatre in January 2015, Dominic Maxwell in the Times highlighted that "the reason that Michael Longhurst's production has made it to London after first playing in Bath last summer, is its sure-footed mix of big laughs and knotty themes. Bad Jews is hilariously, exquisitely edgy... And though the play slips into debate mode — albeit highly entertainingly — towards the end, Longhurst's characteristically sure-footed production gives every character their due." Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times commented how Joshua Harmon's "focus is on three young adults in an American Jewish family, but his drama touches on much broader and very topical questions of culture, heritage and nationality. It's also eye-wateringly funny... Michael Longhurst's deft production responds with beautifully pitched performances." Holly Williams in the Independent held that "Joshua Harmon's 90-minute blast of family drama is drawn so sharply you'd think he'd sliced it out of his imagination with a scalpel." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard said that "Joshua Harmon, aided by a nimblefooted production from director Michael Longhurst, offers a witty, splendidly written 100-minute attack on long-simmering family tensions."

When this production was originally seen at the Ustinov Studio at Bath's Theatre Royal in August 2014, Alexander Gilmour in the Financial Times highlighted that "Joshua Harmon's language is vivid, raw, brilliant; his wit is vicious. And the ensemble, if rather arch, is very good, from Gina Bramhill's cute timing to Joe Coen's perpetually hangdog face... But Bad Jews is a brave comedy with tragically high stakes, which makes for excellent, moving drama." Paul Taylor in the Independent thought that "There will be no justice if this shockingly good production does not transfer to London." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph described how, "in Joshua Harmon's scaldingly funny and penetrating comedy, familial wrangling is stoked by incendiary questions about Jewish faith, identity and the Holocaust," adding that "Harmon shows incredible skill in generating appalled laughter and serious thought in equal measure. And in Michael Longhurst's nuanced and paced production, our sympathies shift at disconcerting speed." Kate Bassett in the Times wrote that "Joshua Harmon generates a few sharp twists and swings in sympathy as the egos and ideologies clash. His antagonists also voice opinions that resonate beyond specifically Jewish issues, with Liam arguing that ringfencing your cultural heritage smacks of fascism, while Daphna predicts that assimilation is a form of annihilation." Michael Billington in the Guardian noted that "it's not flawless, but it shows Harmon has the capacity to write scalding rhetoric."

"Once a person has died, do we honour them by presenting their beliefs unchanged in a changing world? Or can we pick and choose elements of their story and exploit them for effect? These questions are at the core of Joshua Harmon's 2012 serious comedy... Joshua Harmon's script is hyper-wordy and hyper-emotional, his plot a thinly disguised pretext to exhibit unsolvable arguments. But, if flawed, it is vivid and lively. Superb performances, under Michael Longhurst's direction, make this a gripping production." The Observer

"Bad Jews is a terrific family comedy that dramatises the erasure of tradition and cultural identity in the bland global melting pot. Should Jews remain Jews or let it all go? Harmon says: "It seems to me we are living at a time of great extinction - species of animals, changing climates and languages. So much is disappearing so quickly." Yet he dramatises this huge and solemn theme with brilliant comic energy and humanity." The Sunday Times

"This is Joshua Harmon's first produced play and, while his stagecraft can be clumsy, his wit is razor-sharp. He raises pertinent questions about tribalism and assimilation in a multicultural society and it is notable that his most sympathetic character is the gentile Melody, played by Gina Bramhill. Michael Longhurst's assured production is flawlessly acted by Joe Coen and Ilan Goodman as the brothers and, in particular, Jenna Augen as Daphna. It is as much to Augen's credit that she makes no attempt to soften her manipulative, malevolent character as it is to Harmon's that he refuses to give her the dreaded Broadway 'redemptive' moment." The Sunday Express

Bad Jews in London at the Haymarket Theatre opened on 8 February 2016 and closed on 19 March 2016.