Seven Jewish Children - a Play for Gaza

Caryl Churchill
Royal Court Theatre Downstairs
(2009)

Caryl Churchill has written short plays before and has a reputation for her often outspoken political views. Her latest work Seven Jewish Children, presumably written at great speed as a response to the situation in Gaza, is directed by Dominic Cooke in the space used earlier in the evening for The Stone.

It might only last around as many minutes as it has cast members - nine - but in the last of seven scenes, makes the point that it was created to direct public attention towards.

Before that, a largely (or possibly wholly) Jewish cast, combined in six different groupings to agree on what to tell (and as often, what not to tell) their children about the current state of play in "The Promised Land".

Some of the allusions relate to simple facts and the need to tell or hide the truth from young ears. Others consider the existence of a significant other on their land and the threat that brings.

It is in the final scene that a father snaps and explodes with vehement hatred. A play that had seemed placid but informative suddenly becomes intensely controversial as he screams "tell her I wouldn't care if we wiped them out ..... tell her I don't care if the world hates us, tell her we are better haters".

Whichever of Tsippi Livni or Binyamin Netanyahu eventually emerges from the recent Israeli election as Prime Minister will have a major PR job to do in order to win the propaganda war with Hammas.

If either chooses to see this play or read the text, they will see how great that task is. Then again, they might be happier continuing to follow what Miss Churchill suggests is their not very well hidden agenda.

In any event, we must all pray for peace and an end to war in the Middle East.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher