It feels like a farce as it plays out. Yet, it is described as “a raucous family drama about the cost of living the life of our dreams”. Bizarre and incomprehensible things happen to the characters and their domain, but mainly they are not played for laughs. The acting style, for the most part, tends to realism, even though the situation is not realistic. There is such earnestness about the acting that the laughs are few and restrained, and it is difficult to be absorbed in the narrative.
This then is a play about memory and a sense of homeland, and the inter-generational consequences of the Holocaust and Jewish Diaspora. Clearly this is well-trodden ground and anyone approaching it really needs to calculate a new, oblique angle of approach in the way that – for instance – The Hare with Amber Eyes was successfully organised around the history and travels of the netsuke collection owned by the family rather than a full-on narration of the personal fate of the people. There are indications of such an approach here focused on the different meanings and experiences of the untranslatable term Heimat or ‘homeland’, but it is never fully sustained across the play as a whole. Moreover while there are many intriguing connections developed between the six characters none of them really catch light or come to a resolution, so that at the end we are left with a frustratingly inconclusive trajectory. Not that there is anything wrong in leaving plot-lines open-ended, but in the end we are simply not given enough material to care about any of the characters and how they come to be who there are, despite the best efforts of the cast.