Play about kidnap of Jeremy Corbyn to run at Edinburgh Fringe

Play is set in 2018 when Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Opposition
Play is set in 2018 when Jeremy Corbyn was leader of the Opposition - BELINDA JIAO

A play in which a group of Jewish people plot to kidnap Jeremy Corbyn will be staged at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Revenge: After the Levoyah is a satire examining anti-Semitism, set in 2018 when Mr Corbyn was the leader of the Labour Party.

It promises to “blow the roof off what it means to be Jewish in the UK”.

Nick Cassenbaum, the writer, said that Mr Corbyn should not be alarmed by the storyline.

“In no way am I suggesting this is the action people should be taking,” he said.

He described the show as a “silly, madcap, slapstick” production in which two actors, Gemma Barnett and Dylan Corbett-Bader, each play dozens of characters.

The lead characters are twins, Dan and Lauren, who meet an ex-gangster named Malcolm at their grandfather’s funeral.

Malcolm is dying and wants to do something meaningful with his remaining days, so hatches a plot to kidnap Mr Corbyn.

He enlists the twins, who join a group that includes a Holocaust survivor and a liberal rabbi.

‘Bottom twinging’

The play will not portray Mr Corbyn as a villain, said Cassenbaum. Instead, it will explore different responses to Corbyn from within the Jewish community, and dispel the notion that all Jewish people are anti-Corbyn. Some of the characters are fans of his.

“Jewish people are not a monolith,” Cassenbaum said.

He explained: “What I’m not doing is a political takedown of Jeremy Corbyn, or looking at his policies. It’s more about what was happening in the broader sense within the Jewish community.

“People tend to want to see something that they know they are going to agree with, but I guess my intention is to create something that holds a lot of stories, a lot of characters, and may be politically confusing.

“In a way, Jeremy Corbyn has become a bit of a fictional being, this bogeyman, so I’m playing with that. It may make people’s bums twinge.”

The play will examine “the dangers of collective hysteria” and “what happens when a community feels like it is being pushed to breaking point”.

Asked if it would explore the cult of Corbyn, Cassenbaum said: “More like the cult against Corbyn,” adding that the general tone of the production “just gets more and more absurd”.

He wrote the play in 2017 and it has been aired once before, as part of a night of new writing at London’s Kiln Theatre in 2022.

The script has not been changed to reflect the events of Oct 7 or the rise in anti-Semitic incidents since then.

“I haven’t made any changes, but it may change the way people receive it. We’ll have to see,” said Cassenbaum, whose most recent work was Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Pig, Britain’s first professional Jewish pantomime.

The setting is very specific, he added: “It’s a big romp, which starts in Jewish Essex. I grew up in Woodford and it’s quite a close community – there was always a sense of our great-grandparents being friends in Whitechapel. I would say Essex Jews are very funny.”

Cassenbaum declined to give his personal take on Mr Corbyn, although on social media he has branded UK Labour as “a disgrace” over its treatment of Diane Abbott, and of Faiza Shaheen, the former Labour candidate blocked from standing for the party after allegedly liking social media posts that downplayed anti-Semitism allegations.

“Come and see it and you will get my opinion on the situation,” he said.

The play will preview at the Soho Theatre on July 15-17 before running at Summerhall in Edinburgh from Aug 1-26.

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