Daniel Cainer’s Jewish Chronicles
Jewish troubadour brings eccentric stories and stale gags to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
One man’s personal journey through his own family and faith’s past via a series of comedic stories-in-songs forms the basis for Jewish Chronicles, which has an eccentric cast of characters including bickering Jewish tailors and cocaine-addicted, hooker-loving rabbis.
The hour-long set, which is solid rather than spectacular, is predominantly made up of comedic and jaunty, ragtime and klezmer-influenced numbers, but is punctuated with the heavier vibes of slower, more sombre pieces about Cainer’s experience of journeying to the Holy Land itself.
The anecdotes are at times amusing, and the characters in them always colourful, but their theatricality is somewhat jarring compared to the stripped-back performance of Cainer tapping away on his ‘Yamalka’ (a riff on Yamaha… get it?) keyboard.
The pop-culture references are fairly stale (‘pretty fly for a rabbi’, anyone?) and a few of the stories dip into the well of Jewish comedy stereotypes perhaps slightly too often to really pack much of a punch. To his credit, however, Cainer’s superb vocal range and friendly banter between songs, where he invites the audience to help pronounce Yiddish words with him, help propel the show forward, even when the material seems at risk of reaching a plateau.
Underbelly Bristo Square, 0844 545 8252, until 25 Aug, 1.30pm, £10 (£8.50).