Sunday, April 13, 2008

Visiting Mr. Green by Jeff Baron, Trafalgar Studios 1, 9-Apr-2008, Directed by Patrick Garland

Over the years I seem to have picked up a great deal about Jewish culture from watching plays. This play managed to introduce me to something new: The concept of Flayshick and Milchick which is the dietary prohibition on eating meat (e.g. flesh) at the same time as dairy products (e.g. milk) and not mixing the plates or cutlery either. Generally there's a sound what-happens-to-food-in-desert-conditions reason for most kosher rules but I'm not sure of exactly the reason for this one. It also has the ring of a faddish diet.
There's another strange thing to do with food in this play: the young character brings take-out food from an upscale kosher deli (I vaguely recalled hearing of it at the time but now its name esapes me). He opens the three tinfoil boxes to reveal carrots & peas, mashed potato, and stuffed cabbage. Admittedly there didn't appear to be a hob or oven in the appartment-room set (although there was a fridge, a sink and cupboards for 4 sets of crockery and cutlery - falyshick and milchik for standard and passover use) but plain carrots, peas and mashed potato seemed really ordinary for a take away.
The programme notes mentioned the awards it has won and the number of places it has been produced in a way that made me a bit suspicious. It had the feeling of the producers saying “it is good, honest” knowing that they aren't going to be believed.
I didn't think the play was anything ground-breaking but as I've intimated I've seen quite a few 'Jewish' dramas. I also thought that with its short scenes and a running time that didn't justify an interval (less than 90 minutes overall), it didn't really stretch the actors.It is a simple story, simply told and I wanted more. It was carrots, peas and mash and I wished that I'd had something more substantial and classy. The actors also deserved much better fare.

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