Ahead of Trevor Nunn’s revival of Fiddler on the Roof at the Menier Chocolate Factory this Christmas, London theatregoers will have the chance to see the stories of legendary Jewish writer Sholom Aleichem onstage next month in the UK premiere of a new one-man show by master interpreter Saul Reichlin. Time to get booking!
Sholom Aleichem in the Old Country, adapted and performed by award-winning stage and screen actor Saul Reichlin, gets its UK premiere in a strictly limited, four-week season at London’s Lion & Unicorn Theatre from 30 October to 25 November 2018.
Saul Reichlin has won international acclaim for his previous one-man plays of Yiddish tales: Sholom Aleichem – Now You’re Talking!, Roots Shmoots and Isaac Bashevis Singer’s masterpiece Gimpel the Fool. Reichlin toured his first adaptation of Aleichem’s work, Now You’re Talking!, for more than five years, playing to full houses in 36 cities in eight countries. This included hit runs at the Edinburgh Fringe, London’s King’s Head Theatre and Off-Broadway.
Now, 15 years after he first brought Aleichem’s work to life, in the first stage adaptation of the writer’s stories since the 1964 premiere of the classic 1964 Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof, Reichlin returns with this new stage show, abundant in all the wisdom and humour of the shtetl, told from the perspective of Sholom Aleichem himself.
Follow the hilarious adventures of Aleichem as he returns to the place of his birth, the small town of Kasrilevkeh, to revisit his roots. The abject poverty but perennial good cheer of villagers is portrayed in turn as hilarious, touching and occasionally horrifying in stories within stories, dreams within stories – where the matchmaker toils, men barter for eternal life, weigh up whisky against God, and tug at beards in a battle over a seat in the synagogue.
Relentless wives, a drunken shoemaker, a ‘leaking’ baby, missing money, the Dreyfus Case …Rothschild the rich, Rothschild the poor… the shtetl was home to them all. And, of course, such a trip would not be complete without special appearances from Fiddler’s Tevye the Milkman and Menachem Mendel, the matchmaker.
In Sholom Aleichem in the Old Country, directed by Victor Sobchak, Reichlin reminds the audience of the art of story-telling in its purest form as he narrates these timeless stories with a voice of Shakespearean proportions coupled with a vivacity designed to draw the audience deep into the heart of shtetl life.
Sholom Aleichem in the Old Country runs 30 October to 25 November 2018 at the Lion& Unicorn Theatre, 42-44 Gaisford St, London NW5 2ED. Performances (75 minutes) run Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Sunday matinees at 6pm. Tickets are priced £14 (concessions £12). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
About Sholom Aleichem
Sholom Aleichem was born Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich in 1859 in Pereyaslav in the Russian Empire (now in Ukraine), growing up in the shtetl (a small town of largely Jewish population). As an adult, after witnessing the pogroms that swept Southern Russia in 1905, he emigrated to New York City, where he worked as a lecturer and was an impassioned advocate for Yiddish as a national Jewish language. His pen name is a traditional Yiddish and Hebrew greeting which means “peace be upon you”.
Often referred to as the “Jewish Mark Twain”, Aleichem’s literary works include the novels Tevye’s Daughters, The Adventures of Menahem-Mendl, In the Storm, Wandering Stars and The Bloody Hoax as well as numerous short story collections and one-act plays. Aleichem died in 1916, aged 57, from tuberculosis and diabetes.
About Saul Reichlin
Half Russian himself, Saul Reichlin trained at Central School of Speech and Drama, after five years as a solicitor. At the National Theatre, he played Valentine in Love for Love, and narrated The Threepenny Opera. He was nominated for a Best Actor Award in 1998 for his performance as Josef Mashkan in Old Wicked Songs. His many other stage credits include Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Who’s the Daddy?, Sit and Shiver, Moby Dick, She Loves Me, The Madman and the Nun and The Royal Hunt of the Sun. His screen credits include Murder Maps, Miss Marple, Wall of Silence, Headhunters, The Knock, The River I Swam In and The Prisoner File.
Reichlin’s other one-man characterisations include Tony Hancock in the hugely successful Hancock’s Last Half Hour (national tour and Young Vic) and James McNeill Whistler in The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (Edinburgh Festival and Chelsea Arts Club).