Tuesday 24 October 2023

Antisemitism: {{{ A Musical }}}

Camden People's Theatre, London


Writer and composer: Uri Agnon
Directed by: Emma Jude Harris

Maya Kristal Tenenbaum

There are times when life does not so much imitate art, as swamp it in a ghastly tsunami. So it is with Antisemitism: A {{{Musical}}} that plays its fiction against the horrific real-life/real-death backdrop of a pogrom that has seen hundreds of Jews tortured, raped and slaughtered in southern Israel, antisemitism being openly celebrated across the Western world and the United Nations’ Secretary General today pronouncing that Hamas' murderous rampage against Jews, barely two weeks ago, “did not happen in a vacuum”.

There may well be a sound moral underscore to this show, but the evening itself falls far short of expectations. Written by Uri Agnon, the 75 minute piece is drawn from the antisemitism experienced by Agnon on moving to London from his native Israel. Maya Kristal Tenenbaum plays Agnon's Protagonist and whilst her performance is excellent, her reference points aren’t so much explained to the audience as force-fed, and then at breakneck speed. Much of the dialogue is too niche and too much of the plot, ridiculous. David Merriman’s musical direction is spot on, but the sound balancing is awful and in the first twenty minutes or so, much of what’s being sung or spoken is hard to discern. Hannah Bristow and Amy Parker as the show’s two narrators are as good as Tenenbaum, but they have also been given disappointing material to work with.

Elsewhere there are occasional projected and narrated tweets, drawn from the real life cesspit of social media, that appear to be a low-budget imitation of last year’s Jews In Their Own Words, seen at the Royal Court.

There is possibly a fine show struggling to emerge from this musical - but this ain’t it.

Runs until 28th October
Photo credit: Cam Harle

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