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Review: Kvetch

The King’s Head, London N1

    Jewish angst filtered through the mind of Steven Berkoff is a grotesque thing. In his 1986 play his American-Jewish family (from Brooklyn, judging by the accents in Julio Maria Martino's super production for theatre company, This is Not an Exit) consists of wife Donna, husband Frank and his East European mother-in-law, whose belches and wind-breaking is the closest she gets to good manners at the dinner table. This night is different from all other nights because they have a guest, Frank's divorced work colleague, Hal.

    Each diner kvetches their innermost angsts, desires and resentments. Though filled with self-hatred, there is still plenty of room for hatred of others. The second act imposes a thin plot about an affair and hidden sexuality.

    Berkoff offers a nihilistic, stomach-churning view of humanity that is crude, rude - and very enjoyable.

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