THEATRE / Broken Heads - BAC, London SW11

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The Independent Culture
The influence of Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather hangs heavily over Simon Blake's new play, which constantly gives the impression that it would rather be a film. A series of short, unsustained scenes (many overlaid with music) traces the tense family and ruthless business life of a British Jewish family.

Aaron Nathan, a survivor of the Holocaust, is driven by a desire to belong. So, when a rampantly anti-Semitic businessman threatens his family's safety and livelihood, he takes drastic action which divides the loyalty of his two sons and sets brother against brother.

Inter-cut with documentary-style facts about life in the ghettos and death-camps, the play struggles to come to grips with life and death issues - the guilt of survivors, violent resistance versus passive acceptance, religious and national identity - that constantly force back on a thriller-like format, with the result that the beleaguered Nathan family looks increasingly like a particularly nasty branch of the Mafia.

The young cast give committed performances (even when called upon - for no discernible reason - to give a passable imitation of Hot Gossip), but while there's plenty to admire and enjoy in Blake's chic production, it's a case of style triumphing over content, which robs the subject of impact and dignity.

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