Joshua Harmon’s “Bad Jews” is a play about family. The Habers and the Feygenbaums have come together to mourn the passing of “Poppy,” their Holocaust-surviving patriarch, who has gone to his final reward. That whirring sound you hear would be Poppy in his grave as the grands bare their teeth and unsheathe their claws to rend one another as only family can.
Jessica Stone helms her first George Street Playhouse production and she plays her actors like a Stradivarius. This is the Rite of Family and two members in particular, Daphna (Laura Lapidus) and Liam (Alec Silberblatt), are each bedrock-firm in their belief that they are entitled to something very particular that is steeped in the family history. And each seems ready to fight to the death to obtain it.
Jonah (Amos VanderPoel) is hosting his cousin Daphna for their grandfather’s funeral, which has just taken place earlier that day. Liam is the eldest grandson, and arrives very late, AFTER the funeral, with his latest girlfriend Melody (Maddie Jo Landers), who is a sweet blonde young woman, the antithesis of Daphna’s militant religiosity. Liam and Daphna both have deep pain and deep love regarding their grandfather and their family relationship. They clash as only Titans can, razing and blazing at one another, and excoriating all around them. It is clear that something happened to turn a deep love for one another into an abiding hatred. It is only deep love whose other side is that blistering. What it is, we can only surmise, but it is epic.
Ultimately, Melody seems like a soul who has wandered into a minefield, but she taps her inner reserve to get herself through the annealing fire to a new place. She sees a different side of Liam. Jonah, who is a highly privileged, but thoughtful young man, leaves you with an image that for me returns again and again, stirring thoughts of what might yet be.
This play is running through April 9. Flowers fade and cards take up space. Give someone an afternoon or evening of dynamic and deeply thoughtful theatre–it is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Visit www.GeorgeStreetPlayhouse.org
today and get your tickets now!