THEATRE / The Dybbuk - New End, London NW3

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The Independent Culture
Cheekily upstaging the Royal Shakespeare Company, whose own version of Anski's classic opens in two weeks' time, Julia Pascal has transformed Hasidic myth into an urgent play for today - a timeless drama that reaches back into the rituals of the past and looks forward into the ashes of the 20th century. Framed by the musings of a young Jewish girl on the sterility of present-day Germany ('I go to Germany and I think that Hitler won') the play is set in 1942 in a Jewish ghetto where the inhabitants confront their terror by ritually acting out the story - deeply rooted in their culture - of the bride who is possessed on her wedding day by the restless soul of the young student who loved and lost her. Pascal's simple, cleverly designed and movingly acted production throws naturalism and expressionism, dance, music and dialogue (in English and Yiddish) into the melting pot and comes up with something distinctly and refreshingly un-British. Purists will no doubt argue that Anski's original has been subsumed, but this is genuinely creative work which boasts a final sequence that is as spine-tingling as anything you'll see in the theatre this year.

To 19 July (071-794 0022)

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