Writer and Performer: Danny Braverman
Director: Nick Philippou
Theatre doesn’t always have to be large scale to enthrall. Often it is the intimate and personal that makes for the most impact. This is certainly true of Bread&Circuses Wot? No Fish!!
Part performance, part family history lecture, Danny Braverman’s story is like the best of them true. Braverman has inherited a battered old shoe box full of family papers. It’s a shoebox similar to that many of us have stashed away under a bed or in the loft. As he explores this box though, Braverman discovers that the papers his Great Uncle and Aunt saved provide a unique, a moving record of the 20th Century.
Every week from 1926 to the 1980s, Great Uncle Ab drew a cartoon on a wage packet envelope that contained wife Celie’s housekeeping allowance. These simple, but remarkably detailed, drawings give us a glimpse not only into their relationship over six decades but also to the social history surrounding them. A Jewish family growing up in London’s East End during a turbulent period of history, their path wasn’t always easy, but the drawings show a brutal honesty.
Braverman interthis story with links to his own upbringing, paths that see him and his Great Uncle overlap. There’s sadness in these tales, a time when attitudes were very different, but there is also hope. Throughout the pain and challenges of six decades, the love between Abs and Celie remains crystal clear.
Braverman is a master storyteller, with the simple use of a projector and a pair of white archive gloves he shares the contents of his treasured box with us, playing his wage slips like playing cards in the hand of a skilled poker player. We get so drawn in that we feel we know this family and the East End community they come from.
Themes are interwoven and returned to in a detailed yet accessible production. Braverman paces the piece beautifully, allowing time to reflect on the image when needed before playing his next card.
Warm, engaging and moving, What? No Fish!! may be a tale of one specific family, but its universal themes will resonate with many. It may seem like watching a live version of Who Do You Think You Are? but this tale of an everyday, yet extraordinary, family is one that needs to be preserved and shared. A poignant and lovingly crafted show about the enduring power of family love.
Photo: Malwina Comoloveo