Pros: In times when the politically correct have smothered religious talk, three faith leaders revive it with a great dose of self-irony in this ground-breaking setup.
Cons: I wish the production had provided the audience with more written information about the show and the performers in order to give it more resonance.
Let’s make it clear for the sceptical: on stage we had a real rabbi (Alex Chapper of the Ilford Federation Synagogue), an authentic vicar (Reverend Jody Stowell of St Michael and All Angels in Harrow), and a female Imam (Asma Bohl of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative in London). Tutored on their first ever stand-up set by American director and producer Cynthia Levin, the three preachers-turned-comedians took turns under the spotlight and opened up about some unconfessed discrepancies between their secular necessities and their all-round responsibilities as a community shepherd, with unexpectedly comic outcomes.
This rather enlightened way of looking at the role of faith and of spiritual leaders within a community had the audience in stitches and set the right tone for the discussion panel which followed. The ministers reminded us that religion is a serious matter which influences our everyday life in many ways. All questions from the public were answered with warm conviviality and they pointed out that it’s down to each of us to widen our views and approach diversity with love, in order to overcome differences and uncover the common lining of cheerfulness that we all need to be happy, no matter which god inspires us.
With the patronage of Three Faiths Forum, the Jewish Community Centre JW3 has put together this original act as a part of the UK Jewish Comedy Festival, this year at its second edition, offering an important precedent for any interfaith discussion which relies on the immense transformative power of the arts.
Opened in 2013, JW3 is a multi-storey cultural space just off Finchley Road and Frognal which offers a 270 seat theatre, a small cinema, and a café-restaurant. The building is designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, the same prestigious architectural firm behind the OXO Tower and the Golden Jubilee Bridges.
A very well done to JW3 for promoting this educational initiative and providing excellent an example for others to follow. They demonstrated how integration can be encouraged through laughter by religious community leaders. In my opinion this seminal project is full of potential and should soon be repeated within different communities.