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Dov and Ali review at Theatre 503 London

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

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Alistair Smith
Alistair Smith is editor of The Stage. Having joined the publication on staff in 2004, he has also held the roles of reporter, news editor, opinion editor, deputy editor and print editor at The Stage and has written for publications ranging from The Guardian to Hello! Magazine. He is also the author of two major industry reports (the London Theatre Report and the Theatre Workforce Review) and a founder of the My Theatre Matters! campaign.