Liverpudlian playwright Diane Samuels talks to Judi Herman about identity and change from London’s East End 1919 to now. These themes feature in her play Poppy + George, about Northerner Poppy Wright, who is taken on at a tailoring workshop by the proprietor Smith, a Russian Jew with a Chinese past. It’s here that Poppy also meets Tommy the music hall artist and George the chauffeur, both changed by serving in the trenches.
Diane also discusses her new project (at 21:49), Song of Dina, a multimedia oratorio with music by composer Maurice Chernick, based on the story of the Patriarch Jacob’s only daughter.
Poppy + George runs to Saturday 27 February, 7.30pm & 2.30pm, £12-£22.50, at Watford Palace Theatre, 20 Clarendon Rd, WD17 1JZ; 01923 225671. http://watfordpalacetheatre.co.uk
Song of Dina plays on Wednesday 6 April, 7.45pm, FREE, at JW3, 341-351 Finchley Rd, NW3 6ET; 020 7433 8989. www.jw3.org.uk
In the mid-1970s Albert and David Maysles – first-generation sons of Jewish immigrants to the US from Eastern Europe – made Grey Gardens, one of their most famous films. The documentary told the story of a mother and daughter from the highest echelons of US Society, Edith and Edie Bouvier Beale, who were the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The two Bouvier Beale women were discovered living as reclusive social outcasts in Grey Gardens, a dilapidated mansion overrun by cats that was so squalid the Health Department deemed it “unfit for human habitation”. Now another creative Jewish pair, composer Scott Frankel and lyricist Michael Korie, together with book writer Doug Wright, have brought their multi-award-winning musical based on the film to London. JR’s arts editor Judi Herman, who saw Thom Southerland’s European production starring Sheila Hancock and Jenna Russell, was enchanted by this riches to rags story, as you’ll hear in her interview with the three writers.
Grey Gardens runs until Saturday 6 February, 7.30pm & 3pm, £25, £20 concs, at Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD; 020 7407 0234. www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk
You can watch the cult documentary Grey Gardens in full on YouTube, along with a clip of Jenna Russell singing Another Winter in a Summer Town from the musical.
JR’s arts editor Judi Herman joins Joanne Rosenthal, curator of the London Jewish Museum’s Blood exhibition, to take you on a guided audio tour. This cutting edge exhibition explores the provocative and complex subject of blood, featuring manuscripts, prints, Jewish ritual and ceremonial objects, art, film, literature and cultural ephemera to present a rich exploration of how blood can unite and divide, reflecting on over 2,000 years of history.
Blood testing and donation at the museum
Anyone interested in saving lives through blood donation is invited to attend a Know Your Group day at the Jewish Museum, to register and test likely blood groups, on Sunday 17 January ahead of donation in February – donors will be invited to give blood then. There is no need to register in advance for the Know Your Group days – simply turn up between 10am and 4pm.
Blood runs until 28 February at London Jewish Museum, 129-131 Albert St, NW1 7NB; 020 7284 7384. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk