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‘Bad Jews’ : scalding and funny

jews07  Production photos by Mark Garvin

The play “Bad Jews” premieres tonight at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. Premiered in 2012, the play follows Daphna Feygenbaum, who swears she is the most devout Jew in her family. When her less observant cousin arrives to claim a treasured family heirloom and religious symbol, a hilarious and devastatingly funny battle of Old Testament proportions ignites. This youngest generation of “Feygenbaums sharpen their wit, familial vitriol, and humor.”

Written by Joshua Harmon and directed by Matt Shakman, the play stars a young Jewish cast including Ari Brand, Molly Ephraim, Lili Fuller and Raviv Ullman.

“The characters are all being looked at through a comic prism, but I don’t think of them as ugly, ” Harmon told the Jewish Journal.

“Sure, they’re flawed. Yet they’re each trying their best to live an authentic, true life. For one of them, that means very much embracing her culture, and for the other, it’s a rejection of that and trying to embrace a much more secular, nonreligious identity. And so while there’s a lot of anger, the characters are not so much motivated in their fight by hatred of each other, so much as they are by love for their grandfather, and for what they think matters in what should be passed on.”

Production photos by Mark Garvin


The New York Times said of its New York performance two years ago, “Bad Jews crackles with energy for most of its running time of a bit more than 90 minutes. Toward the end, the play’s momentum slackens a little, but it’s probably just as well, because given the professed enmity of the combatants, this battle might last from now until Passover.”

England’s The Telegraph wrote, “In Joshua Harmon’s scaldingly funny and penetrating comedy, familial wrangling is stoked by incendiary questions about Jewish faith, identity and the Holocaust.”

And “Harmon shows incredible skill in generating appalled laughter and serious thought in equal measure.”

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