Jewish Chronicle - 6 December 2002

Things you shouldn't say past midnight - Soho Theatre, London

Jews should see this play, gentiles should see this play, but most of all, Jews who date gentiles and gentiles who date Jews should see this play.

The title of American writer Peter Ackerman's hugely enjoyable sex comedy could be a euphemism. The 70 minute piece might be called "Things You Shouldn't Say During Sex." And the thing that southern belle Nancy (Lucy Akhurst) shouldn't have said to her Jewish boyfriend, Ben (James Callis), just as the earth is about to move in his New York City bedroom is: "Do me, you hook-nosed Jew."

Nancy likes to "talk mean" while making love. Ben likes it too, but prefers to do it without the racial slurs. Nancy's outburst may have been without malice, but up until then Ben had thought himself "the least persecuted Jew in the universe."

But Ackerman's witty and sensitively written play is not about Ben or anti-Semitism - it is about communication and the culture gap between different traditions. After the loving couple try in vain to talk through their 3am crisis, Nancy seeks refuge at the apartment of her college friend Grace's (Anna Francolini). What follows is an ingeniously staged (design by Laura Hopkins) impromptu telephone counselling session that involves Grace , her Mafia hit-man lover, Gene (Vincenzo Nicoli), and, at yet another New York address, Gene's gay psychiatrist brother Mark (Patrick Baladi) who is sharing his bed with the octogenarian Mr Abramson (John Rogan).

Ackerman relies rather too much on his audience's willingness to suspend disbelief, but his script is saturated with sparkling dialogue and he has the skill and confidence to turn his stereotypes into characters. Abigail Morris directs with energy and flair and elicits from her cast six beautifully judged performances.

Many thanks to Jin for typing this up!

Back to Article Gallery