Theatre review: Levin & Levin, Everyman, Cork

Set in the early part of the 20th century, when Jewish people were driven out of Russia because of the pogroms, this impressive production from local theatre company, Broken Crow, has resonance for today.

Theatre review: Levin & Levin, Everyman, Cork

The play, written by Aideen Wylde (who also stars in it, alongside George Hanover) is the story of two young Russian Jewish girls, who, to survive, disguise themselves as boys and travel across Europe. After a spell on Broadway with their cabaret act, they end up in the Weimar Republic, performing their satirical songs playfully, while overshadowed by Nazism.

With the resurgence of extreme right-wing politics today in parts of Europe and with families fleeing the hostile regime in Syria, Levin & Levin touches on child labour and hints at the horrors of being a refugee.

The play, directed by Veronica Coburn, is an intense, physical drama that uses vaudeville, slapstick, clowning, and music, despite the sinister climate that the duo is navigating. They belt out songs (accompanied by a band led by John O’Brien) in a Berlin club, with lyrics that include dangerous concepts such as ‘racial purity.’

Behind their front for the world, the play is also about the pair’s disintegrating relationship. Hanover’s character, Ida, is frustrated with her life. She is sick of looking out for Wylde’s character, Bubbie.

Ida is streetwise and, despite having to behave like a boy, is in touch with her femininity. Bubbie is goofy and institutionalised in her disguise. Both actors perform with tremendous energy and versatility.

Broken Crow is taking over the Everyman this week, with a production of The Secret Garden, for children over seven. It’s also full of female energy, and written and directed by women (Frances Hodgson Burnett and Deirdre Dwyer).

There are also workshops and readings, including an adaptation, by Rosie Regan, of Kevin Barry’s short stories, ‘Ernestine and Kitand’.

  • Levin & Levin until Saturday (excluding Friday.) www.everymancork.com.

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