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A CurtainUp London Review
It seems that archaeologists are pretty contentious people, not for the British reason (because of the delay to building development if a significant historical site is uncovered and needs excavating), but because of the impact their discoveries will have on religion. According to the murdered archaeologist, the Jews were never in Egypt, never enslaved. As Khalid puts it, "If there never was a kingdom of Israel, what is the justification for Zionism?" Khalid continues with the contention that Abraham, David, Moses and Jesus were all Muslim prophets.
In the programme, Oxford Fellow in Biblical History, Dr Madhavi Nevader tells us that "a more precise archaeological survey of Jericho showed not only that were no walls for Joshua to burn down, but there was no Jericho at the time of Joshua at all."
Danny Rakov (Paul Rattray), the suspect, is a West Bank settler. He's a man born in the Bronx who refuses to recognise the authority of the Palestinian policeman. "Arabs don't tell Jews what to do in the land of Hebron," says Danny. But it is Yossi, the Israeli cop, who puts Danny in a scary headlock. So the author turns on its head the traditional alliances expected in Israel. The tensions are exposed between the Palestinians and the West Bank settlers, between the Israelis and the more recent, militant land grabbing settlers.
It makes for a well acted, tense and exciting drama that raises all kinds of controversy. The archaeologists at its center are described here as desecrators of sacred soil.
Michael Feast is sometimes oily and wheedling, almost always dislikeable and jaded, as he aims for the conviction statistic rather than the truth or the facts. Khalid says he will only be happy when every Jew is removed from Palestinian soil and Philip Arditti demonstrates Khalid's courage and integrity. Yossi will uncover that Danny was associated with a pilgrimage to the shrine of Baruch Kopel Goldstein, an American born Israeli physician who killed 29 Palestinian worshippers and injured another 125 at the 1994 Cave of Patriarchs massacre. Goldstein was condemned by most Israelis. Paul Rattray's fresh faced zealot Danny will learn who is his friend and who is his enemy.
Caitlin McLeod sets it all in one small interrogation room and when tempers are raised it feels dangerous. If you can only go to one London Fringe theatre, let it be The Finborough for its exciting programming and superb productions!
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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