I’m willing to bet that the title alone already has you thinking. Will it be serious? Funny? Divisive? To me, the play is intriguingly difficult to pin down. In fact, that’s part of its charm. Somehow, playwright Joshua Harmon has found a way to be both reverent and irreverent on the subject of religion. At the same time, he creates characters who will feel like part of your own family but can express themselves in far funnier ways than most. I suppose that calling the play a comedy is closest to the truth (because the laughs are indeed plentiful), but that characterization shouldn’t make you think that this writer isn’t getting down to serious business. What could be more serious than being stuck in a studio apartment…with your family?
That’s what truly captivates me so much about this piece – those familiar family dynamics that Josh has captured in all their uncomfortable glory. In many ways, family and tradition bring us together, especially as children, but what happens when the kids grow up and form beliefs of their own? Bad Jews looks at that very specific moment in time when a generation of cousins realizes that it’s up to them to decide how their culture will be perceived. Depending on their behavior, Judaism can be a collection of perfunctory traditions or a legacy of faith and survival. And the stakes are even higher when you’re the grandchildren of a man who lived through the Holocaust. For these characters, choosing to eat a cookie during Passover carries more than the average amount of Jewish guilt – it carries the symbolic weight of their feelings about the life of Judaism throughout the world.
In this play, all sides are allowed to have their say. And I think you’ll be surprised to find your own loyalties shifting throughout the evening. A character who behaves repugnantly can be both awful and absolutely right at the same time. The gentlest of souls may bring out the strongest emotions. And even the most assured can have their faith shaken. It’s a play that lives on ever-shifting ground, which is exactly what makes it so exciting to watch.
I’m thrilled to be introducing you to this playwright and to his director, Daniel Aukin, an artist whose work I’ve admired for years and who makes his Roundabout debut with Bad Jews. They join an ever-growing list of playwrights, directors, actors, and designers who have found a home at Roundabout Underground and have been able to launch hugely successful careers. From a Pulitzer finalist to a Tony nominee to a writer/director team making the leap to Broadway this year, I’m so proud of the many accomplished talents who have gotten their start in our little Black Box Theatre.
I hope that you will share your thoughts on Bad Jews with me after seeing the show. Please email me at email@example.com and let me know what you think about this provocative new play.
2012-2013 Season, Bad Jews, From Todd Haimes, Roundabout Underground