Mancunian Rhapsody - Edfringe Review

Mancunian Rhapsody is set in Manchester and includes a parody of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ but the crux of this show is the Orthodox Jewish faith.

‘Mancunian Rhapsody’ is performed documentary-style with a mother – Rivki Pashinsky (played by Debra Tammer) who is a huge Freddie Mercury fan, and she explains her life and views to the audience.

It’s an educational show and I feel I learnt a lot about the Jewish faith, including a day of cross dressing for both sexes - which seems feminist – and something that doesn’t - women having to bathe and refrain from sex for seven days after a period as well as during (surely that rules out sex for half of the year)?

There are two actors: Debra Tammer (playing two roles - mother Rivki Pashinsky and potential daughter in law Devorah Feigenblum) and Tommy Burgess (who plays Rabbi Michael Pashinsky). The actors are great: believable, funny, and sing with comic movement, timing and strong vocals (such as when Burgess sings ‘I Dreamed a Dream’). The characters reminded me of Su Pollard and Lee Evans and I mean this as a compliment to the actors. Not being Jewish I didn’t get all of the jokes but I saw a lady in the front row close to tears of laughter.

In each scene there is explanation of Jewish customs or important religious festivities followed by a musical parody – I feel the production could perhaps mix up the order of the songs – starting a scene with a song, or halfway through…this is done towards the end.

The plot involves Michael Pashinsky getting engaged to an American girl Devorah Feigenblum who he meets online (through a Jewish dating website). Devorah is a modern career woman and explains that she does not want to become the submissive housewife that perhaps Michael is anticipating. But something gets in their way (it’s a contentious storyline).

Director Rachel Creeger creates space for the actors on either side of the stage, one side is mother Rivki Pashinsky’s kitchen where she is preparing for a religious festival and the other side is a bedroom / hotel room where the young lovers take it in turns to wait separately as they are not allowed to see each other before the wedding.

The version of ‘Mancunian Rhapsody’ I saw at the Edinburgh Fringe had some of the Queen songs removed for time (it ran to one hour) and there were parodies of many other songs, I'd enjoy a full length version with more Queen (I can imagine Michael singing ‘Somebody to Love’ or Devorah ‘Fat Bottom Girls’).

You won’t find another show like ‘Mancunian Rhapsody’ it’s one of the most original, interesting and amusing pieces of new writing I’ve seen.

(c) Wendy Thomson 2015

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