Review: Mother/Son

By John Nathan, June 20, 2008

Theatre 503, London SW11

Dov (Ben Turner) teaches English literature at a school in Detroit. Ali (James Floyd) is his student. Dov has been raised as an Orthodox Jew. Ali has been raised as a Muslim who believes only in the Koran. Dov thinks that life and art should be open to interpretation. Ali argues for certainty. Dov is suffering a crises of conscience. Ali berates his teacher for his doubts. Dov struggles to reconcile the beliefs bestowed upon him by his rabbi father with his relationship with his gentile girlfriend (Orla Fitzgerald). And it is here where Alex Sims’s production of this new play by American writer Anna Ziegler falters.

As the supposedly more mature Dov, Turner’s tormented anguish comes across as a curiously adolescent condition. Ziegler eloquently pits two opposing attitudes — Jewish doubt and Islamic certainty — against each other But her attempt at even-handedness diminishes when her narrator, Ali’s hijab-wearing sister (Kiran Landa, in the second play this week that sees Jews and women wearing the Muslim headscarf share a stage) emerges as a victim of Islamic conviction. (Tel: 020 7978 7040)

Last updated: 1:17pm, June 20 2008