Edinburgh Festival Fringe preview: Let’s take the Chai road!

Edinburgh Festival Fringe preview: Let’s take the Chai road!

A round-up of this year’s Jewish offerings include Ami & Tami, Jess Robinson, Golem, Sweet Grassmarket and The Chess Player

Francine Wolfisz is the Features Editor for Jewish News.

  • The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk
    The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk
  • A rabbi grapples with a man-made monster in Golem
    A rabbi grapples with a man-made monster in Golem
  • Ami and Tami is a Jewish twist on the Hansel and Gretel folk tale
    Ami and Tami is a Jewish twist on the Hansel and Gretel folk tale

Ami & Tami, Underbelly, 11 to 24 August, 10.30am

Hansel & Gretel gets a thoroughly Jewish twist in this modern reworking of the Brothers Grimm tale. In 1997, Israeli composer Mátti Kovler and lyricist Aya Lavie met at a Jerusalem secondary school and came up with a parody about Jewish mothers, inspired by Broadway and Soviet musicals.

Narrated by renowned author Prudence Steiner, Ami and Tami tells the story of two siblings longing to leave their overbearing parents and find adventure in the unknown woods. As the fairytale unfolds, instrument-wielding actors lead audience members through the magical tale.

Following an English language debut in 2015 in Boston and sold-out performances in New York, Floating Tower are now bringing their all-singing, all-dancing tale to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Arlene! The Glitz. The Glamour. The Gossip. Assembly Checkpoint, 22 to 26 August, 2.30pm

With an incredible 40 years in showbusiness, Arlene Phillips has earned a reputation as choreographer to the stars and creator of some of the world’s most iconic musicals.

From Starlight Express, Annie, Grease, Wizard Of Oz, We Will Rock You and Sound Of Music, to Elton John, Whitney Houston, Freddie Mercury and Hot Gossip, Arlene has been an inimitable force on stage and screen for more than four decades.

The toughest judge on Strictly Come Dancing reveals all to Jacquie Storey – prepare for a night of glitz, glamour and gossip!

Jess Robinson, Underbelly, 2 to 27 August (excluding 14 and 21 August), 7pm

Multi award-winning Jess Robinson, a semi-finalist in Britain’s Got Talent, returns with more spot-on celebrity impressions and musical comedy.

Robinson, 33, who is the grand-daughter of late jazz pianist Jules Ruben, effortlessly impresses with her eclectic medley of impersonations, from Billie Holiday and Liza Minnelli to Iggy Azalea, Beyoncé and Kate Bush.

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Traverse Theatre, 15 to 27 August (except 21 August), various times

On canvas, Marc Chagall depicted himself flying above wooden shtetl roofs with the love of his life, Bella Rosenfeld. Now their love story is laid bare on stage in director Emma Rice’s colourful production, The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk.

Away from the idealism of romance, Daniel Jamieson’s play reveals how this young couple must navigate the devastation of the Pogroms, the Russian Revolution and the Holocaust.

The story is woven throughout with music and dance inspired by Russian-Jewish tradition.

Ami and Tami is a Jewish twist on the Hansel and Gretel folk tale
Ami and Tami is a Jewish twist on the Hansel and Gretel folk tale

Golem, Sweet Grassmarket, 21 to 27 August, 8.20pm

For centuries, the old mythical Jewish folk tale of The Golem has intrigued as much as it has inspired, from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, to Terminator, Robocop and I-Robot.  Now the question of what it means to be a man or a monster is tackled by actor-playwright Richard Waring.

It’s the Passover, a young girl has gone missing and the Jews know they will be blamed. The Blood Libel is coming to Prague. Rabbi Loew, leader of the community, creates a creature from the mud of the riverbank – a being of enormous strength.

But can the old rabbi control his own creation?

Waring transforms between the charismatic rabbi desperate to protect his people from anti-Semitic attack, and the mythical Golem that brings hope, but also terror.

A rabbi grapples with a man-made monster in Golem
A rabbi grapples with a man-made monster in Golem

The Chess Player, C Primo, 2 to 28 August, 12pm

A battle rages inside a prisoner’s mind as he struggles against insanity while held in solitary confinement in a Nazi jail. After stealing a book of chess matches, he divides his conscious self into two feuding chess masters.

The Chess Player is based on a novella by Jewish-Austrian author Stefan Zweig. It was first published in 1941, just a year before Zweig and his wife, despairing at the prospect of Nazi triumph, took their own lives.

Award-winning American actor and director Richard McElvain stars in this gripping production.

A Hunger Artist, Zoo, Aug 4 to 28 (except August 8, 15, 22), 5.45pm

Performer and puppeteer Jon Levin brings his stage version of Kafka’s darkly comic tale, A Hunger Artist, to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Cheering crowds once flocked to see the hunger artist, who starved in a cage for 40 days and 40 nights at a time for their entertainment, but over the years his popularity wanes.

The narrator takes the audience on a nostalgic look back at this lost art form and the troubling nature of memory, art and spectatorship.

Adapted by Josh Luxenberg and directed by Joshua William Gelb, A Hunger Artist is crossing the Atlantic to Edinburgh, following its recent successful run in New York.

read more: