BWW REVIEW: The Unique Intimate Experience of Jessica Bellamy's SHABBAT DINNER Enthrals And Educates
Monday 10th September 2018, 7pm SBW Stables Kings Cross
In a society where people can still struggle with accepting others, Jessica Bellemy's SHABBAT DINNER breaks down barriers as she shares her faith, family stories and food with the intimate audience. An intriguing and informative immersive theatrical experience sees the audience invited to join in a sacred ritual for a different kind of dinner theatre.
Following on from successful seasons over the past five years Jessica Bellamy brings SHABBAT DINNER to the intimate SBW space. Directed by Anthony Skuse, this work is honest and heart-warming as Bellamy is joined by Amy Hack and Kirsty Marillier to share the meal that welcomes the Jewish day of rest at sundown each Friday evening. Whilst many would expect a piece of theatre about a family dinner to contain some form of drama and conflict Bellamy's family observance of the Jewish ritual is peaceful, kind and welcoming. It is as much an educational piece as it is theatre with Bellamy leading the trio to explain the various parts of the Shabbat Dinner that brings Jewish families and friends together each Friday whilst also giving an insight into her own family history with additional exploration of Hack and Marillier's heritage.
Bellamy ensures that the audience understands that she is telling a personal story as she paints the picture of a family gathering with her sister, parents and two sets of grandparents, remembering what family Shabbat dinners were like. Echoing her contemporary observance as a 30 something vegan hipster gathering with her urban family of friends she is joined by Kirsty Marillier who identifies as a coloured South African woman, and Amy Hack who is a Jewish woman of South African origin. The audience rounds out the guests at the beautifully laden table. Interspersed with the explanation of the rituals including blessing of the bread and wine the Hack and Marillier weave the stories of the origins of the origins of Jewish beliefs and stories of Bellamy's own family stories of escaping Russia and settling in Australia. Included are commentary on the role and attitudes towards women within Judaism providing a feminist view on what are arcane beliefs that strict Jewish people will adhere too along with amusing habits established by her grandmother.
Whilst the opening night audience included a number of people of the Jewish faith, as indicated for their ability to sing along with the beautiful traditional songs, giving an added richness to the work, SHABBAT DINNER is a great experience for anyone. Bellamy explains the proceedings extremely well without preaching or lecturing so that even if you didn't have any prior knowledge of Judaism you'll walk away with an understanding and awareness of the ritual and a renewed faith in humanities ability to come together in peace and learn about each other. Brilliantly presented and definitey worth seeing during it's short season.
10 - 15 September 2018