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Dov and Ali

Published Friday 13 June 2008 at 12:00 by Alistair Smith

The Arab Israeli conflict is ripe for drama and, in Dov and Ali, American Jewish writer Anna Ziegler mines the subject with real flair.

Rather than addressing the physical battles taking place in the Middle East, Ziegler focuses on a US school and a very personal skirmish between a young Jewish teacher and one of his Muslim pupils.

Both are sons of devoted, religious fathers, both apparently confident in the values and outlooks that their respective religions - and fathers - have given them. They bond over a shared interest in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and develop a distinctly belligerent kind of friendship.

However, underneath their professed confidence, Dov and Ali are both struggling to reconcile their religious beliefs with struggles in their personal lives.

What is most impressive about Ziegler’s writing is how she allows the subtext of the pair’s discussions - superficially about Golding - to reveal more universal problems within each of their philosophies and become emblematic of greater world struggles.

God’s love, it seems Ziegler is telling us, can be a poor substitute for the more earthly kind, and God’s rules cannot always be reconciled with the realities of the world we live in.

James Floyd, as the opinionated and precocious Ali - “Life isn’t about being happy, it’s about being right” - is quite superb, while Ben Turner, as the troubled and torn Jewish professor provides an equally impressive sparring partner.

The production is simply but well staged on a set which doubles as a classroom and Dov’s apartment.

Ziegler’s writing is the highlight, here, though - incisive and admirably succinct. Definitely worth a trip to Battersea.

Production information

Theatre 503, London, June 10-July 5

Anna Ziegler
Alex Sims
Theatre 503
James Floyd, Ben Turner, Kiran Landa, Orla Fitzgerald
Running time:
1hr 15mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014