Get ready to laugh when three cousins and a fiancé come together after their grandfather’s funeral to bicker over his most valued possession, with two of the grandchildren determined to claim his gold necklace, a chai.
Kansas City’s Unicorn Theater opened their second production of the season with “Bad Jews,” by Joshua Harmon, on the Jerome Stage, Oct. 25. The play features a quartet of Kansas City actors–Dina Thomas, Mark Thomas, Doogin Brown, and Erika Baker–under the direction of executive artistic director, Cynthia Levin.
Soft-spoken Jonah (Mark Thomas) and fiancé, Melody (Erika Baker) unexpectedly fall into the middle of a fracas between Daphna (Dina Thomas) and Liam (Doogin Brown) as they each believe their claim to their grandfather’s necklace trumps the other’s claim.
Daphna a.k.a. Diana takes control of the first scene with her fast talking and bold characterization overpowers the quieter Jonah as she works to convince him to side with her to claim the necklace. Just as she thinks she’s won his vote, Jonah’s brother Liam arrives with an unexpected fiancé to spend the night.
Diana’s mean-spirit surfaces early in the first act as her rapid-fire delivery demonstrates her over-bearing persona. When Liam arrives, her talk turns into a constant flood of profanities and insults as she attempts to brow-beat Liam. Her rancid insults soon turn on Melody, an unlikely target for her anger.
Not to be outdone, Liam, too, uncorks a slew of insults and angry words aimed specifically at Diana. He warns Melody to not speak to Diana because everything said or told to Diana can later add fodder to the fire–which it does.
For almost 90 minutes the play gallops along at a fast pace with no let up in insults and foul language. And, the audience loves it. The hilarity displays all the characteristics no one wants to claim. Bad behavior seems the norm for both Liam and Daphna while Jonah and Melody helplessly watch and listen.
A standing ovation, well deserved, rewarded the actors for a superb performance in a bitingly funny “Bad Jews.” The production contains fast paced, rapid-fire insults and unexpected outbursts of audience laughter. Expect lots of good laughs as “Bad Jews” establishes an entertaining evening.
Dina Thomas and Doogin Brown stand out as the most vicious, spiteful characters currently on the Kansas City many stages. Their acting is strong and focused. Words fail to express the comedy they bring to the play. Their characterizations are second to none.
The beautiful set design enhances the production and adds to the overall enjoyment of the play. The creative team deserve recognition for all the technical aspects that allows the play to work so well.
The creative, led by Levin includes: Tanya Brown, stage manager/production assistant; Gary Mosby, scenic design; Victor En Yu Tan, lighting design; Jamie Leonard, assistant lighting design; Ian R. Crawford, costume design; Jonathan Robertson, sound design; Kelsey Brennan York, production assistant; Alex Perry, technical director; Jamie Lindemann, assistant technical director; Kathleen Cancelino, sound board; R. Estrella Cordero, dramaturg.
“Bad Jews” definitely makes the audience laugh. Truly a comedy with dark overtones, the show causes the audience to erupt in laughter, throughout. The show is one to not miss if you enjoy broad comedy.
Tickets and more information about “Bad Jews” can be found on the Unicorn Theatre’s website. “Bad Jews” runs through Nov. 16.