Not Quite Jerusalem

by Paul Kember

3 - 15 March 2020

“ All I’m talking about is this. Democracy. Having a say in your own affairs. Taking decisions about your own lives ...It’s not like that in England. ”

The first new UK production for 40 years

To book tickets for the 2021 performances of Not Quite Jerusalem, click here.

In light of recent government advice regarding the coronavirus pandemic, all remaining performances of Not Quite Jerusalem from Tuesday, 17 March 2020 will be cancelled and the theatre closed with immediate effect. All ticketholders will be contacted and refunds arranged.

Please consider donating the price of your ticket to support the theatre’s future. For more information about how to donate to the Finborough Theatre, please visit our Support Us page.

★★★★ Four Stars, The Reviews Hub
★★★★ Four Stars, The Londonist
★★★★ Four Stars, Reviewsgate
★★★★ Four Stars, Broadway World
★★★★ Four Stars, London Living Large
★★★★ Four Stars, British
★★★★ Four Stars, Jewish Renaissance
★★★★ Four Stars, Paul in London
★★★★ Four Stars, Plays To See
★★★★ Four Stars, UK Theatre Web
★★★★ Four Stars, London Pub Theatres

OffWestEnd Award Nomination for Lead Performance in a Play – Ailsa Joy

In a production commissioned by the Finborough Theatre to celebrate its 40th anniversary with a play written in the year the Finborough Theatre opened, the first new UK production in 40 years of Paul Kember’s award-winning 1980 comedy-drama.

It’s 1979, and Mike, Carrie, Pete and Dave have fled grim, divided England for the sunshine, sex, beer and bagels of a Israeli kibbutz. Only to find that what was supposed to be a working holiday is more like hard labour in 100-degree temperatures.

Pete and Dave soon alienate themselves with their foul-mouthed, high-spirited behaviour. Carrie desperately tries to fit in, but cannot relate to either her fellow-countrymen or the Israelis. Only Cambridge drop-out Mike seems able to articulate what it means to be young, conflicted, English, and a very long way from home. Until, that is, he meets no-nonsense kibbutznik Gila…

First presented at the Royal Court Theatre in 1980 where it broke box office records and revived there in 1982 (with casts including David Threlfall, Phil Davis, Kevin McNally, Selina Cadell and Bruce Alexander), Not Quite Jerusalem won first-time playwright Paul Kember the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award.

This production contains strong language.

About The Playwright Paul Kember

Playwright Paul Kember won the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright for Not Quite Jerusalem, his first play. He spent five years as a journalist in Liverpool before training as an actor at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. As an actor, he was a founding member of the influential Joint Stock Theatre Company, for twenty years Britain’s leading experimental theatre company. He also appeared in over 75 television programmes including The Sweeney, Casualty, The Bill, Heartbeat, Pie in the Sky, Taggart, Newshounds, Common as Muck, and films including Agatha, The First Great Train Robbery, The Long Good Friday and An American Werewolf in London. His second play, Asylum, starred Sarah Miles at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, and his third play, High Flyers, starred Hugh Grant, Simon Cadell, Glynis Barber and James Hazeldine. He has three children and lives in London.

About The Director Peter Kavanagh

Director Peter Kavanagh is an award-winning director for theatre, film, television and radio. Theatre includes The Labyrinth (Players Theatre, Dublin, Dublin Theatre Festival and Royal Court Theatre), A Door Must Be Either Open or Shut, and The Boor in his own translations from Chekhov (Chichester Theatre Festival), Love and the Art of War (King’s Head Theatre), the musical The Good Companions (Watford Colosseum), A Selfish Boy and After Prospero (INK Festival at the Tristan Bates Theatre), Vox Humana (Cockpit Theatre), Endgame (Players Theatre, Dublin), Play, and Mrs Warren’s Profession (Project Theatre, Dublin), The Exception and the Rule (Focus Theatre, Dublin), This Property is Condemned And Other Tennessee Williams Plays (Gate Theatre, Dublin) and Victims (Abbey Theatre, Dublin). 
Film and Television includes Sightings of Bono, starring Bono, I Was the Cigarette Girl with Andrew Scott, which won an award at the Colombia Film Festival and a nomination at the Chicago Film Festival, and Sisters with Lisa Faulkner (BBC2).
Radio includes many award-winning productions for Drama on 3, from Sophocles through Shakespeare and Strindberg to Harold Pinter, James Graham and Howard Barker. Recent Ibsen productions include The Wild Duck in a version by Christopher Hampton with Samuel West and David Threlfall, Brand, Rosmersholm translated by Frank McGuinness with Helen Baxendale, and The Lady from the Sea with Cheryl Campbell. Shakespeare productions include Romeo and Juliet, All’s Well That Ends Well, and Measure for Measure featuring Simon Russell Beale, Emma Fielding, Siân Phillips, Saskia Reeves and Bill Nighy. Other notable casts include Benedict Cumberbatch and Lia Williams in Tom and Viv, Sorcha Cusack in Juno and the Paycock, Ian MacDiarmid in Volpone, Fiona Shaw in Playing with Fire, and Stephen Rea and Sinead Cusack in Ulysses. Prix Italia and many other drama awards include a Special Commendation for Landscape starring Harold Pinter and Penelope Wilton. He was nominated for Best Director by the BBC Audio Awards in 2017. He has also written and translated for stage and BBC Television drama.

The Press on Not Quite Jerusalem at the Finborough Theatre

“Stormingly performed by a cast inhabiting their characters with absolute authenticity, and ingeniously realised on the Finborough’s tiny stage, this bruisingly funny, sharply intelligent play, though written four decades ago, dramatises issues of English and Jewish / Israeli personal and political identity that feel astonishingly topical.” Mark Lawson, The Tablet

“There’s a neat symmetry in mounting a revival of Paul Kember’s debut play Not Quite Jerusalem. Like the Finborough Theatre, it celebrates its 40th anniversary after an award-winning premiere in December 1980 at the Royal Court.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review

“40 years after Paul Kember’s play first premiered at the Royal Court, it is back at the Finborough Theatre. And it feels as if it could have been written to describe the England of today.” Paul Ewing, Londonist

“The Finborough's latest production proves thought-provoking and timely, with much to say about our past (and present) attitudes to 'otherness'. A wise choice for the venue, and a great achievement from all involved.” Laura Fuller, Broadway World

“Peter Kavanagh directs this superb revival of Paul Kember’s 1980 play. It is a welcome addition to the Finborough Theatre’s excellent so far 40th Anniversary season.” Andrew Curtis, London Pub Theatres

“A play about a country full of crap towns, no opportunities and a class divide could have been written today...and unexpectedly has new resonance about the opportunities afforded to people in this country.” Paul Ewing, Paul In London

“Some plays resoundingly of their time start kicking their time-capsule to pieces years later. So choose your revivals carefully and something vital emerges; there’s no going back. So it proves here.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review

“A most timely revival.” Julian Eaves,  

“Still very thought-provoking.” Christopher Walker, South London Press

“First performed in 1980, the issues raised by this thoughtful reflection on British society are amazingly relevant to today's social and political scene.” Jim Cooke, London Living Large 

“Sparkles with relevance and a streak of nostalgia.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review

“A remarkable rediscovery of a play known by repute but unaccountably almost never seen.” Julian Eaves, 

“This slice of history has a timeless feel and the production is a triumph. In a time of division and lack of common understanding and empathy, this play is a must see.” Andrew Curtis, London Pub Theatres   

“A disturbing and challenging state of the nation commentary.” David Guest, The Spy In The Stalls 

“This award-winning comedy, hailed as refreshing and insightful at its 1980 premiere, is a worthy revival for the Finborough’s 40th birthday.” Judi Herman, Jewish Renaissance

“London’s smallest theatre packs some of the capital’s biggest theatrical punches. This is certainly true of the Finborough Theatre’s current production of Paul Kember’s Not Quite Jerusalem.” Christopher Walker, South London Press

“Shed[s] light on what clearly appeared at the time to be the imminent Death of England, the birth and development of Israel and the socialist politics underlying the kibbutz movement.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“As both drama and social commentary it is very much of its time, though little enough has changed to keep it just as resonant today.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“Kavanagh and Artistic Director Neil McPherson have revived an enduring little classic of Englishness on the turn, out of the ideal-exhausted Seventies and on the edge of darkness. Finborough’s Fortieth looks set to enthral too.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review

“Fresh as paint.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The human experiences at its centre still ring true.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London 

“The play has some staying power, not least because it proves that nothing changes: the shock is that it could have been written yesterday.” David Guest, The Spy In The Stalls

“Although written 40 years ago, Not Quite Jerusalem and its exploration of the British disregard for opposing cultures still feels relevant today.” Laura Fuller, Broadway World 

“It captures the heat and isolation of the kibbutz for the young foreigners, which is remarkable given London is cold and wet at the moment.” Paul Ewing, Londonist

"A comic delight.” David Guest, The Spy In The Stalls 

“The politics of Kember’s play come across loud and clear today just as they did then. Perhaps louder given the state of the nation.” William Russell, Reviewsgate 

“It’s set in 1979 and looks at what it is to be young and English at this time, however we find many of the play’s concerns are still pertinent today.” Sacha Magee, Plays To See

“A rediscovery of an extremely well written play that since its premiere has been quite bafflingly ignored by the professional stage.” Julian Eaves,  

“A vivid and enjoyable play, nuanced and recognisable characters – backed here by exemplary performances from a talented cast.” Ed Whitfield, View From The Cheap Seat

“The skilled penmanship of writer Paul Kember who won the prestigious Evening Standard Award for Most Promising New Writer with this, his first play.” Elaine Pinkus, UK Theatre Network

“Kember’s writing is at its best when showing how xenophobia and self-loathing are two sides of the same coin.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“Kember’s writing is brilliant and markedly authentic.” Sacha Magee, Plays To See 

“Adroit dialogue, sharp characterisation which deepens throughout, a generous focus on each character – and combination.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review

“Author Paul Kember is an actor and the writing in consequence is a masterclass for actors.” Christopher Walker, South London Press

“Characteristically of the Finborough – a good and well-acted production.” Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk 

“Peter Kavanagh’s intelligent production is perfectly cast.” Judi Herman, Jewish Renaissance 

“An excellent young cast convince as this collection of misfits.” Andrew Curtis, London Pub Theatres

“One cannot fault the cast.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The cast are strong.” Laura Fuller, Broadway World

“All performances are exemplary.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review

“A great ensemble of young actors.” Paul Ewing, Londonist

“Performed with conviction.” Elaine Pinkus, UK Theatre Network

“Strong performances.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London 

“The acting is first class.” Christopher Walker, South London Press

"It is to the credit of the cast that they present genuine people in an authentic setting." Laura Fuller, Broadway World

“McArdle, Yorke and Bentley are first-rate, with Whittle authoritative and compelling in the biggest role.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review 

“Outstanding performances by Russell Bentley and Alisa Joy.” Christopher Walker, South London Press

“McArdle and Ronnie Yorke do the yobs to four letter perfection.” William Russell, Reviewsgate 

“This duo – Dave and Pete – played by Joe McArdle and Ronnie Yorke  steal the show in the second half as they warm up for a side-splitting performance.” Penny Nair Price, Saturn Herald 

“Joe McArdle and Ronnie Yorke provide a terrific double act.” David Guest, The Spy In The Stalls  

“Ronnie Yorke and Joe McArdle were both excellent.” Jim Cooke, London Living Large

“Pete (Ronnie Yorke) is a very accomplished actor who can turn his hand to mimicry – he and Dave are a well-cast “pair”.” Penny Nair Price, Saturn Herald

“Their journeys are compelling, and Yorke and McArdle bring humanity to the roles…they also bring great humour.” Andrew Curtis, London Pub Theatres

“McArdle also shines - his portrayal of the frustrated, ignorant Dave is truly heartbreaking.” Laura Fuller, Broadway World

“Joe McArdle is a convincingly hapless Dave.” Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk 

“The splendid Ronnie Yorke.” Julian Eaves, 

“Ronnie Yorke has…a striking comedic stage presence.” Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk 

“Ailsa Joy provides the stand-out performance.” Sacha Magee, Plays To See 

“Ailsa Joy is a delight. She controls the stage.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web 

“Ailsa Joy wonderfully captures the abrasive no-nonsense attitude of the tough sabra Gila.” Judi Herman, Jewish Renaissance

“Ailsa Joy is amusingly contemptuous to start off with, introducing real depth as the chemistry flares between them.” Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk

“It is Joy’s Gila, and the deadpan earnestness of her black humour, which stick in the memory.” Scott Matthewman, The Reviews Hub

“Joy’s as enthralling as acetylene cutting through encrusted crap.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review 

“Alisa Joy conveys a sharp intelligence blended with unwavering commitment.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“Alisa Joy is terrific.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“The production’s undoubted highlight and source of energy is Ailsa Joy’s captivating performance.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“Ailsa Joy gives a magnificent performance.” Julian Eaves, 

“Alisa Joy is thoroughly convincing, handling both comedic and emotional moments with equal command.” Laura Fuller, Broadway World 

“Ailsa Joy’s blunt frankness is the play’s greatest joy.” Scott Matthewman, The Reviews Hub

“Joy radiates fierce honesty and fiercer desire for real love, and scorches 100 degrees across the stage.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review

“Ryan Whittle’s Mike is the troubled conscience of the play.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web 

“Sensitively done by Ryan Whittle.” William Russell, Reviewsgate

“Ryan Whittle makes us believe and care about the real struggle and pain of his journey.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London

“A nuanced sympathetic performance from Ryan Whittle.” Rachel Halliburton, The Arts Desk 

“Russell Bentley and Miranda Braun as Carrie, the artist who finds kibbutz life brings her out of her shell, do sterling work.” Scott Matthewman, The Reviews Hub

“Braun…conveys exquisite loss.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review 

“Miranda Braun’s account of Carrie is pitch-perfect.” Judi Herman, Jewish Renaissance

“Miranda Braun delicately reveals Carrie's story.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“Braun’s timing…is wincingly fine.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review

“Miranda Braun – is tremendously likeable.” Penny Nair Price, Saturn Herald 

“A brilliant piece of characterization by Miranda Braun.” Christopher Walker, South London Press

“Miranda Braun provides many delightful moments.” Laura Fuller, Broadway World 

“Braun’s character…is the trickiest to bring off and she manages it superbly.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review

“Russell Bentley allows Ami to be the quiet, thoughtful rock who keeps the kibbutz and its inhabitants functioning.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web 

“Russell Bentley invests the older kibbutz leader with requisite maturity, wisdom and understanding.” Gerald Berkowitz, Theatre Guide London 

“Russell Bentley gives an engaging and passionate performance.” Laura Fuller, Broadway World 

“Russell Bentley also gives a touching performance.” Sacha Magee, Plays To See

“The direction by Peter Kavanagh is clear and concise.” Laura Fuller, Broadway World

“Splendidly directed by Peter Kavanagh who has come up with an excellent cast of actors whose work cannot be faulted.” Aline Waites

“Peter Kavanagh’s production succeeds in shocking with its forthrightness.” Julia Rank, The Stage

“Effective staging.” Elaine Pinkus, UK Theatre Network

"Director Peter Kavanagh and his six-strong cast achieve...tease out the shadowy heart of the work which reflects on the sensibilitis of life in England’s green and pleasant land." Laura Fuller, Broadway World 

“Visually strong.” Paul Ewing, Londonist

“Design by Ceci Calf and lighting by Ryan Stafford create a believable world with some beautiful images. Isobel Pellow’s costumes suit the situation perfectly.” Derek Benfield, UK Theatre Web

“The lighting by Ryan Stafford and designer Ceci Calf make the Kibbutz setting so authentic.” Penny Nair Price, Saturn Herald

“Ceci Calf’s set design effectively conveys the agricultural setting and Ryan Joseph Stafford’s lighting conveys the scorching intensity of the spring sun.” Sacha Magee, Plays To See

“Upcoming design talent Ceci Calf has devised a remarkably evocative impression of the farm.” Julian Eaves, 

“Lit pitilessly and tenebrously by Ryan Stafford.” Simon Jenner, Fringe Review 

“Lit with poetic imagination by the also new and one-to-watch Ryan Joseph Stafford.” Julian Eaves,  

“Isobel Pellow is the clever mind behind the nifty costume choices.” Julian Eaves, 

The Press on the Original Production of Not Quite Jerusalem

“Extremely funny.” Daily Telegraph

“Remarkable comedy.” Punch

“Exceptional.” The Times

“Sparkling… A winner.” Variety

“Almost continual laughter… funny, truthful, caring play.” Daily Mail

“More salient points about our attitudes to each other, to foreigners, and to ourselves, than any play I’ve seen in years… Sharply observant…very funny.” Time Out

“A stunningly promising debut…Packed with honest observation and comic detail… a lovely study of post-adolescent uncertainty.” The Guardian

“Full of wit, compassion and understanding.” Daily Express

“Glorious.” Jewish Chronicle

“Brilliant.” The Spectator

The Press on Director Peter Kavanagh

“Humour, intelligence and craft. I was moved almost to tears at the finale.” Evening Standard on Love and the Art of War

“Absorbing revival…Peter Kavanagh’s light touch well suited to Porter’s eccentric narrative… so much good work.” The Stage on Blink

“A tiny masterpiece…softly compelling…This is a first-rate production.” ★★★★ Four Stars, London Fringe Review on A Selfish Boy.

“Could not have been more entertaining, an underrated little gem. This was a superb evening.” ★★★★ Four Stars, on The Good Companions.

“A fine, clear immediately accessible version of Ibsen’s Rosmersholm by Frank McGuinness in a production that exactly matched the text. With outstanding performances by Nicholas Farrell, Helen Baxendale and Ronald Pickup.” ★★★★ Four Stars, Sunday Telegraph on Rosmersholm

“The best Shakespeare BBC has done for years, the production’s virtues are easily stated - you can boil them down into one overriding virtue: lucidity.” ★★★★ Four Stars, The Independent on Measure for Measure

“Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker… This new production by the BBC’s Peter Kavanagh had David Warner as Davies… It lingers in the mind to haunt and warn because it has terrified you yet sometimes surprised you into sudden laughter. It was, in short, marvellous.” ★★★★ Four Stars, The Telegraph on The Caretaker

“Richard E. Grant is marvellously droll against the magnificent hauteur of Francesca Annis… relish the vividness of the production by Peter Kavanagh, so sharp yet so simple.” ★★★★ Four Stars, The Spectator on In the Depths of Dead Love

“Richard E. Grant gives a staggering performance.” Radio Times on In the Depths of Dead Love

“Dazzlingly good.” The Stage on In the Depths of Dead Love

“Towering intensity…does great justice to the work…A superlative production” The Guardian on The Faith Healer

“Sisters is television drama at its richest - intimate, close-up and highly personal.” Radio Times on Sisters

3 - 15 March 2020

Tickets and Times

Tuesday 7:30pm
Wednesday 7:30pm
Thursday 7:30pm
Friday 7:30pm
Saturday 3:00pm
Sunday 3:00pm

Approximately two and a half hours including one interval of fifteen minutes