Downton Abba – Reviewed
Downton Abba comes to Woodford for Purim!
It is traditional on the festival of Purim for Jewish communities to put on a ‘spiel’ (play) telling the story of Esther. Woodford Liberal Synagogue has, in recent years, delighted audiences with an array of musical offerings at Purim – last year’s being the hilarious ‘Thriller Megillah’, which borrowed tunes from the late Michael Jackson.
This year, on Saturday 23 February, WLS was transformed into the Downton Abbey set, as the religion school staff told the Purim story with a period-costume twist and the Abba songbook thrown in for good measure. When the much-maligned Queen Vashti is asked to show off her moves to the disinterested King, he sings:
“Dancing Queen, you’re not young or sweet, you look seventy;
Dancing Queen, when I see your face, I think it’s Halloween!”
When you realise that the King was played by 18-year old Hannah with the bearded Sam comfortably filling Queen Vashti’s shoes (as well as her dress), pantomime conventions were employed in abundance – oh yes they were! No spiel or panto would be complete without its lead dame, who, once again, was played (for laughs) by head teacher, Josh, whose King Mother character, Mamma Mia, paid homage to Maggie Smith’s award-winning Lady Grantham from Downton. The sharp pen of our writers Jonny and Ben kept the gags flowing in between the foot-tapping songs, whilst still ensuring that the evil butler, Haman (played by Nathan) met his sticky and deserved end.
A packed house, whose ages ranged from three to ninety-three, was treated to “the best Purim spiel ever”, according to one teenager in the audience. And with lines like “Mummy, we ate the kids” after the King found what had happened to their herd of goats, it would be hard to argue.