Review: JEW-ish (King’s Head Player)

This “twisted millennial rom-com” first ran at the Edinburgh Festival in 2019, then at the King’s Head in January 2020, and now makes its way into the KHTV Plays on Film season (alongside Vespertilio, Illusions of Liberty, Sacrament, and I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical).

Unleash the Llama’s production of JEW…ish takes polyamory, politics, passion, pegging, and pre-conceptions to craft an evening’s entertainment. The approach is somewhat slapstick, and takes its cue from popular culture references (Richard Curtis, the “snowflake” generation, overbearing mothers).

Max is Jewish, as we find out in his defining opening scene. TJ, his ex, is not. They are both entertainers: he does stand-up, she does “interpretive dance”. They are young adventurers when it comes to sex, and both defined in a way by the expectations around them.

Edie Newman and Saul Boyer in JEW...ish

Asking the age-old question, “is it ever OK to get back with your ex?”, JEW…ish takes the comical approach – there are scenes which sparkle set at or in, variously, a funeral, a restaurant, a car, and a graveside. Kennedy Bloomer and Toby Hampton direct the fast-paced show and don’t let any of the script (by Poppy Damon and Saul Boyer) get lost.

The performances of both Max (Boyer) and TJ (Edie Newman) are strongly physical and strangely sweet: these are not a pair of individuals it is easy to like on paper, but the way we see them here, we cannot help but root for them.

Whether she is smoking weed in inappropriate places, dancing as a manatee (Wikipedia: mostly herbivorous marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows), cringing through his Love Actually schtick, or suffering the rejection of her artistic ambitions, Newman is never less than believeable as TJ.

Max’s family concerns and commitments go against his way of life, but he’s conflicted and caring (“I’ve got neuroses – put it down to Moses”). He can be coarse, too, and hides behind a facade when it comes to his career (“I’m a barrister, not a barista” … “so basically law, not lattes or LOLZ”). Boyer nails his character perfectly.

Saul Boyer and Edie Newman in JEW...ish

JEW…ish is a very funny piece which manages to be irreverent about everything around it. As I was unable to see it live last year, I welcome this chance to view what is a strong piece of new observational writing.

To book for JEW…ish or the other shows in the King’s Head Plays on Film series, go here. Three shows are currently available, with two more streaming from tomorrow (22 April).

For more about Unleash the Llama, go here.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review JEW…ish.