Smash hit comedy still leaving aching bellies in its wake
The Fugard Theatre’s production of Joshua Harmon’s West End smash comedic hit, ‘Bad Jews’, returned to the Fugard Studio Theatre for the holidays and is now entering its final stretch, having left many a belly strained during its festive run.
With the final performances looming (as of press time, the production is scheduled to end on January 14), Peter Tromp caught up with actresses LARA LIPSCHITZ and DONNA CORMACK-THOMSON and tried to pick their brains as to why the show’s formula has proven so successful with local audiences.
How would you describe the appeal of ‘Bad Jews’?
‘Bad Jews’ is a brilliantly written script. It’s biting and funny, while also being very intelligent and thought-provoking. The characters are three dimensional and each one is relatable for different reasons. I think people see themselves or their family members in these characters and resonate with the issues of heritage, culture and family.
What do you love most about playing Daphna Feygenbaum?
I love that she is such a complex, vivacious and strong-willed character. It’s a brilliant challenge to play her every night and roles like Daphna are far too rare for women, so it’s really been the best experience for me as an actress.
You undergo quite the physical transformation for the role. Tell us a little about the no doubt Andy Serkis-esque process you undergo to become Daphna. Also, what actorly techniques do you employ to authentically telegraph Daphna’s cosmic belligerence?
Wow, thank you. That’s an amazing compliment. Well firstly, I wear a wig and darken my eyebrows to match, which immediately makes me feel different. The unflattering clothing also adds to the sense of heaviness and groundedness that I’m going for. The biggest thing for me is changing my posture, mannerisms and way of walking. I have to do a thorough physical and vocal warm up before every show. Then with all acting I have to focus on her objectives, which are to get the Chai necklace no matter what and to prove that she is the most deserving person. With this return season I feel even more comfortable and confident playing her larger than life energy.
What else do you have going on at the moment?
I have a web series that needs to be seen by more people. It’s called ‘Chin Up!’ You can find it on YouTube and it’s really funny. But you can decide for yourself. We just finished the second season and have started writing season three to shoot next year. Give it a watch and subscribe to the channel to stay up to date with what I’m up to.
You’re a relative newcomer to the theatrical scene, so I’d imagine a successful show like ‘Bad Jews’ is a pretty sweet gig to have landed. Tell us a little about the audition process, how confident you felt of getting the part and how you ultimately felt when you heard you had landed the role.
Work hard and your dreams will come true – that’s my mantra, and I like to think that is what happened with landing the exceptionally “sweet gig” that is ‘Bad Jews’. (Director) Greg Greg (Karvellas) came to watch ‘The White Whore and The Bit Player’ (directed by Christopher Weare) earlier in the year, and after the show, asked if I would come and audition for ‘Bad Jews’. I had seen the show in Cape Town the previous year, and was ecstatic about the opportunity to audition for Melody. The audition required me to learn a large portion of Melody’s lines, so I spent the next week learning them thoroughly, working on my accent and I went to see Robyn Scott for some direction prior to the audition. When I found out that I had got the role, I was nervous and quite intimidated, not overly confident at the start, but honoured, and ready to work to deserve the opportunity I had been given.
What’s the process been like of fitting in with an already very well oiled comedic machine? How long did it take until you felt like one of the gang?
I expected to it to take longer to feel like a part of the fam, but the entire cast and crew made every effort from the start to make me feel welcome and now, it feels like I have always been a part of the ‘Bad Jews’ team. Of course it was like hopping on to a moving train, but very exciting and so much fun that I hardly noticed
What can we look forward to from you next?
I hope to pursue some more film and television work in the new year, as I spent the majority of this year working in the theatre and would like to expand my skill set. I have one film project coming up in late January thus far, so that is what is up for me next. And of course, there are countless directors that I wasn’t able to work with this year, and I hope that I will have the opportunity to work with in 2017, as well as possibly writing/working on some of my own work as well
* Performances take place from Tuesdays to Fridays at 8pm, and on Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm.
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