By Peter Tromp
(picture: Glen Biderman-Pam in ‘Bad Jews’)
Joshua Harmon’s West End smash hit comedy ‘Bad Jews’ belongs up there with the likes of Edward Albee’s ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’, among the theatre’s great vitriolic works. In this deliriously entertaining play, characters verbally lay into one another with almost gleeful abandon, criticizing each other’s lifestyle choices and sincerity with ferocious zeal.
An outstanding cast is expertly marshalled by Greg Karvellas, resulting in one of the best shows of 2015 – a festive delight not to be missed. An absolute standout in the cast is Glen Biderman-Pam as one of the “Bad Jews” of the title.
With the production entering its final few weeks, I had a chat with the comedian/actor.
When did you discover your love of performance, and how did you go about carving out a career for yourself in show business?
It was some time in primary school where I landed the lead role in a production I forget the name of. I had a line that went “Lord, save my soul.” I remember getting a huge laugh from that and I have never looked back.
What are your proudest moments so far in your career?
‘Somewhere on the Border’ at the Market Theatre and The Baxter was a special one, because it was my debut as a professional actor and I feel like it was such a poignant play to be doing. I was surrounded by a stellar cast and learnt a lot from that. As a comedian, having the privilege to be on Comedy Central three times has been pretty prideful. Is that a word?
Tell us about your character in ‘Bad Jews’ and how you went about realising the role. What unique qualities do you think you’re bringing to your character?
I play Liam, who is the “Bad Jew” in the story. I watched a lot of ‘Seinfeld’ leading into this and I basically moulded Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine into one character. I find a lot of his beliefs relatable so I guess it’s not too far from who I am.
What can audiences look forward to with ‘Bad Jews’?
A lot of laughs mixed with moments of scathing animosity. Just straight up entertainment, really.
How long does it usually take for you to shake off your character after a performance?
I don’t really shake the character off. I just get up there, say the lines with intention and meaning and try and be as in the moment as possible. So it’s not so much a case of stepping into Liam’s shoes as it is just reacting off what is going on around me and using Harmon’s words to express those reactions.
The production has been running for a number of weeks now. How did you guys go about establishing a workable rapport amongst yourselves, and where would you say you are now in terms of chemistry, versus those first few performances?
It’s such a lovely cast. Oli (Oliver Booth) and I have been friends since primary school and it is so much fun to be able to work together on a show like this. There are no egos in the room (except our director Greg Karvellas; He only drinks herbal tea, eats deli meats, Swedish Fish and Ritz Bits). No, everyone gets along and we are not trying to outshine each other. We just want to make a great show that people can come to and be entertained.
* Don’t miss this amazing show, which is showing at the Fugard Studio until December 31, before transferring to the Auto & General Theatre in Sandton in the new year.
Tickets can be booked at Computicket, or at the Fugard Theatre’s box office on 021 461 4554.