Irene Sofia Lucio’s Daphna is a whirling dervish in the wow-what-just-happened Bad Jews currently at the Studio Theater. From the opening scene, she flips and twirls her cascades of curly dark hair, first telling younger cousin Jonah (Joe Paulik) how she feels about the passing of their beloved grandfather Poppy, and then confronting equally fortified older cousin Liam (Alex Mandell). After 100 minutes of laughter, venom and a crazy song–thank the 4th actor Maggie Erwin (the aptly named Melody) as Liam’s girlfriend for that comic interlude–we shake our heads and look around for permission to leave.
I was surprised people didn’t stand at the end. I’m usually not in favor of this DC thing–you don’t see it much in New York–but I probably wouldn’t have minded it here. These actors gave their all, and Joshua Harmon’s inventive script with Serge Seiden’s let-them-go direction feels just right. It’s an intense play but the rewards are plentiful.
For Studio to go back-to-back with The Wolfe Twins and Bad Jews is quite a coup. The plot here involves the 3 cousins talking about a religious symbol that Poppy kept in his mouth in the concentration camp to keep it from the Germans. Daphna says she deserves it, Liam says Poppy already committed it to him to give to his Gentile girlfriend-soon-to-be-fiancé. This is too much for Daphna. Jonah and Melody are caught in the crossfire, and Jonah’s low-key responses to his high-strung cousin and brother are well restrained.
I’m sure Bad Jews will be extended so try to get there. We need to reward our local theaters when they entertain us like this.