Recently on TikTok, an old 2008 YouTube video of the Miami Boys Choir, an Orthodox Jewish pop group, went viral. People began dueting the video, dancing to the song “Yerushalayim” and discussing which singer was their favourite. It was unmistakably a celebration of Jewish joy.
But what does it mean to find joy as a young Jewish woman in north-west London? As Ariella (Deli Segal), the protagonist of Pickle at Park Theatre, states, there are more Jewish people in New York than in the whole of the UK. Here, it is painfully obvious she’s part of a minority. Directed by Kayla Feldman, we follow Ari as she discovers how to find ‘the joy’.
Ari is struggling to find a place where she feels she belongs. She has to balance Friday night dinner with drinks at the pub, JSwipe with Hinge, being Jewish and secular. An attempt to lighten the mood at her new job with an anecdote about her nephew’s botched circumcision results in anti-Semitic microaggressions from her colleagues.
The Jewish men her community sets her up with are all awful, but then so are the Tinder guys she ends up hooking up with. To make things worse is the voice of Jewish guilt in her head that’s overwhelmingly loud and won’t leave her alone. At least there’s smoked salmon and fish balls… except that Ari doesn’t really like fish balls.
Pickle is a one-person play, written and performed by the effortlessly talented Deli Segal, is always funny, often moving and ultimately a joyful celebration of what it means to be a Jewish woman. With minimal set and props, Segal keeps her audience enthralled for the entire performance, with a mixture of Jewish pop music, sound bites and witty one-liners.
While perhaps you might understand more of the jokes if you are familiar with Jewish culture, (or if you live in Golders Green or Hendon), this doesn’t mean the play isn’t enjoyable for all. For those not familiar with Jewish vernacular, Segal includes helpful explanations and even a flow chart. Pickle is an amazing piece of theatre and a must-watch for everyone.