Review: Originals – Tikkun Olam

Written by Teynkie van De Sluijs, this is a political piece based around a Labour MP and cultural tensions within his constituency.

Tikkun Olam refers to a concept with Judaism which refers to forms of action intended to repair and improve the world.

Directed by Michael Boyd, this play reading features Luke Thompson, Diana Quick, Debbie Korley and Jake Fairbrother.

When a Holocaust memorial and education centre is proposed for Victoria Gardens, social influencer Leah (Korley) is invited by researcher Dan (Thompson) to discuss and advise. She is Black and Jewish, which causes some predicable awkwardness.

Mary, played by Quick (“we weren’t the perpetrators, we were the liberators”) is the local voice of dissent, parrotting rhetoric which looks at poverty, not politics. It’s a difficult role, well-judged and delivered.

Steve, the MP, (Fairbrother), is mixed-race, born British. The park he wants to place the Holocaust memorial in celebrates Suffragettes and abolitionists. Are British Jews not to be granted the same importance and courtesy?

Broadly focusing on questions of nature, nimbyism, and blatant hypocrisy for political gain, Tikkun Olam is a piece which catches the moment without being imflammatory.

One line I particularly noted was about Jews being racist against other Jews, which has certainly been indicated in some quarters. It is easy to see any issue in black and white or good and bad, but this is never simple.

This play rips the veil away from planning processes and power plays. No one comes out well from this: Steve is clearly out for personal and professional gain whatever he protests about being there for his constituents.

What really does “matter” in the wide scheme of things? Can a row of ancient plane trees compare with hundreds of people murdered duting atrocities?

Can we ever really acknowledge our own prejudice or bias?

You can view Tikkun Olam as part of Original Theatre’s triple bill or seperately – purchase your ticket here.