5 Questions with Maria Angelico and Simon Corfield

Maria Angelico

Maria Angelico

Simon Corfield: In Bad Jews it is their grandfather’s heirloom that they fight for. What would be the thing that would send you into battle against a family member?
Maria Angelico: I love that the question is worded as to assume I’ve never gone into battle with a family member before! Being one of three sisters with Sicilian background; unfortunately we have. That being said though, we’ve never gotten to the level that this play does. If there were something though, it I would have to be if one of us did something to damage our closeness. It may sound strange but my family work hard to be close, so if one of us went against that, we’d fight fiercely to fix it… so I guess we’d go against each other to not be against each other if that makes sense ha!

Daphna is a force to be reckoned with, what kind of natural disaster do you think she would be?
Great question! Tornado. She’d be a lone freakish Tornado that you see coming but can’t look away. She approaches slightly and it’s almost exciting, then all of a sudden you can’t escape and she sucks up all your world, energy and cookies, leaving nothing but mess and exhaustion…. yet she’s still kind of cool and exciting. So yeah, she’d be a tornado.

Have you found it difficult playing Daphna each night? If so, what in particular?
Playing a role that thinks and speaks at three times the pace that I do is incredibly difficult. It takes a lot of energy! Sometime I feel like I’ve run a marathon after the show and I have to keep looking after myself. That’s not too difficult though, it’s satisfying. The hardest thing would have to be how cruel she is. It is so much fun getting to be a bitch on wheels every night, it really is, but getting into Daphna’s bitterly lonely psyche every night can feel a bit heavy. I have to make sure I spend lots of time in-between shows, laughing, relaxing and spending time with puppies and people I love. I wouldn’t have it any other way though! I’m thrilled and grateful to get to be Daphna, Joshua Harmon did such a wonderful job of writing such a dynamic, smart, witty and deep role for a woman and I cherish the opportunity!

You have written and starred in your own acclaimed comedy web series, Movement. Who tickles your funny bone?
So many people do! I’m a big fan of SNL Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph in particular, I also LOVE Louis CK and Larry David, oh and Julia Louis- Dreyfus, Jenny Slate, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson of broad city and Lilli Tomlin, Woody Allen, Gilda Radner! Oh god the list could go on and on and on! That being said, I actually think I find my funny bone most often ticked by strangers and moments I witness in my day to day activities, from little things I over hear or awkward moments that happen even to myself or friends. Life to me is more than often hilarious. We humans are funny awkward creatures!

Any tips for those wanting to access their inner manipulative bitch?
1. No one is your friend. You can be anyone’s but choose not to be.
2. You are superior.
3. People are amusingly stupid.

Simon Corfield

Simon Corfield

Maria Angelico: What do you like most about the play?
Simon Corfield: That when you walk on stage each night you never know if the audience are going to laugh, gasp, or both. *added bonus is people coming up to you in the foyer telling you how much they hated you.

What do you dislike most about the play?
That it’s only 90 minutes. Once I have jumped into the world of Bad Jews, I really could keep going. It’s too much fun being a self-entitled, smug little f&@k.

How would you describe the cast in three words or a phrase?
A cast that laughs together, farts together.

What TV or film is the play most like?
The comedy in the play reminds me of early Woody Allen, or Curb Your Enthusiasm, but the fight between Liam and Daphna reminds me of the awesome 80’s film The War Of The Roses.

What have you learnt from the play?
When playing a character like Liam, to never be afraid of your audience disliking you. You cannot control what personal experiences and beliefs an audience member walks in with. Bad Jews delves into the fight between different belief systems about religion, a timely conversation that needs to keep being had, and I have learnt that in such a piece if someone hates you onstage, they are going to walk away and think or talk about why. The conversation will continue beyond watching the show, and that’s what every theatre maker wants.

Maria Angelico and Simon Corfield can be seen in Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon.
Dates: 18 May – 14 June, 2016
Venue: Seymour Centre, Sydney

Dates: 13 July – 31 June, 2016
Venue: Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane

Dates: 9 – 14 Aug, 2016
Venue: Regal Theatre, Subiaco

Review: Bad Jews (Vass Theatre Group)

badjewsVenue: Seymour Centre (Chippendale NSW), May 18 – Jun 4, 2016
Playwright: Joshua Harmon
Director: Gary Abrahams
Cast: Maria Angelico, Simon Corfield, Anna Burgess, Matt Whitty

Theatre review
Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews explores authenticity of the self in relation to religion, ethnicity and history. At opposite ends of a spectrum are the religiously observant Daphna and her atheist cousin Liam, both Jewish by genealogy but each relating to their backgrounds in vastly different ways. They fight over what constitutes right and wrong, constantly and fervently berating each other for their conflicting life choices. At its best, Harmon’s writing is deliciously cutting, with characters verbally attacking each other at the most vicious degrees imaginable. The words are brutal, but they ring true, even as they emerge in contradiction from opposing sides of the argument.

The play’s comedy is not always refined but director Gary Abrahams injects a confident energy into the production to ensure that chutzpah makes up for the occasional shortcomings of the text. Abrahams’ eye for detail delivers a very tight production that insists on being compelling at every moment, and rich with thrilling resonance whenever it delves into more meaningful proclamations.

Excellent performances by the cast of four make Bad Jews a memorable night at the theatre. Daphna is played by Maria Angelico with extraordinary gusto. Dangerous, funny and vulnerable, she goes through the gamut of human emotions for a portrayal of what seems an oddity but in fact translates with intimate accuracy. We may not be able to identify with her world of religious righteousness but her very human expressions of desperation are universally accessible. In the role of Liam is Simon Corfied, animated and passionate with great conviction, giving life to an uptight scholarly type who although represents the voice of reason, is comically unable to quell his shortness of temper for his adversary. Supporting actors Anna Burgess and Matt Whitty are both accomplished and precise with their depictions. Burgess in particular, impresses with her capacity to turn every brief opportunity in the limelight into a delightful showcase for her comedic genius.

For all its talk about religion, and the varying extents to which its individuals practise the beliefs that they inherit, Bad Jews makes a convincing point about love being the overriding factor that helps determine how we live. We cannot decide who we truly fall in love with, much like we do not choose who we are born to. Liam is accused of sacrilegious desecration by the pious Daphna, but the play makes us understand that anything that would come between real love to be erroneous. Liam revels in the purity of his romantic relationship, while Daphna experiences purity in her religious orthodoxy. They are concurrently right, even if in a state of war.