The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble's production of Joshua Harmon's "Bad Jews" is chaotic and comical, and at its heart exposes the ugly, and occasionally unbelievable actions that can result from a death in the family. Director Dana Resnick successfully ties humor to truth in this rowdy comedy.
On the eve of her grandfather's funeral, Daphna Faygenbaum (Jeanette Deutsch), attempts to finagle her cousins Liam (Noah James) and Jonah (Austin Rogers) into agreeing to let her inherit their Poppy's heirloom, citing a deeper connection with Judaism. Liam, who has returned from a trip with his girlfriend Melody (Lila Hood), has a very different plan. The two enemies messily battle it out, yelling hilarious and hurtful jabs. Although the dark comedy relays an experience specific to the Jewish community, each character's complex habits and unending debate over the significance of family legacy are universal. The production is quickly stuffed with insane, unending arguments and insults that are thankfully peppered with comic relief.
"Bad Jews" boasts a talented cast, with a remarkable performance by Noah James. James embraces Liam's erratic language with an combination of authenticity and theatricality that make his frequent unpleasantries toward Daphna unexpectedly endearing. He plunges into tender moments with ease. When sharing memories of his grandfather with the other characters, he also shares with the audience a secret vulnerability. His compassion and adoration for Melody is a refreshing intermission between the bickering that dominates the evening.
Undeniably, these quips between characters are very entertaining. The creativity Daphna and Liam use to craft their insults is hilarious and unpredictable.
Wicked and provocative, "Bad Jews" successfully unmasks raw family relationships with foolproof humor.
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"Bad Jews" is playing through June 17 at The Odyssey Theatre (2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles). Tickets are $30-$35. For more information visit http://www.odysseytheatre.com.