facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

Everything Is Illuminated

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 22 April 2008

Simon Block’s adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel is a play of two halves. The first is for the most part light-hearted and comic, while the second is dark, moving and at times disturbing. This structure is used to convey the journey that the characters go on, both physically and emotionally, as they delve into their shared histories and discover a past that strikes them harder than they could have imagined. Caroline Bishop attended the first night of Everything Is Illuminated at the Hampstead…

Jonathan (Patrick Kennedy), the novelist, is the central character in the play. A Jewish American, he has come to the Ukraine to find a woman who saved his grandfather from execution by the Nazis, therefore making his own life possible. In this quest he employs local man and translator Alex (Craig Parkinson) and his grandfather (David Ryall) to drive him to a village which no longer exists, armed only with a photograph of the woman in question.

The first half sets the scene, and the mood is light. We see the contrast between Jonathan and Alex’s lives, and the attitude of Ukrainians to Americans and to Jews. Alex’s flowery and heavily accented English as he talks to Jonathan and narrates to the audience gives the play a comic tone. Equally, Jonathan’s attitude to his quest and to his ancestors’ country is at this point a rose-tinted one – he seeks to thank and reward his grandfather’s saviour without realising the horrific stories he is uncovering in the process.

In Act Two these stories are unearthed, as the trio find an old woman (Gemma Jones) who knew Jonathan’s grandfather and she gradually reveals to them the appalling crimes that were committed against her and her village during the war. This also prompts Alex’s grandfather to confess a secret he has been carrying around for the past 50 years, with shocking consequences.

As the burden of the past is placed on Jonathan, his naive eyes are opened to the reality of his family’s history, and this transformation, or illumination, is illustrated by the fate he gives the characters in the novel he is writing, who, like him, go from innocence to bitterness.

In the programme notes playwright Block says Jonathan’s character goes to the Ukraine to search for one thing, only to encounter something else entirely – as did the Hampstead audience did last night.

CB

Share

Sign up

Related articles

Due to the current pandemic various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows. Please bear with us as we try to keep this page as up to date as possible. If you find a mistake, please let us know by emailing enquiries@soltukt.co.uk. If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

For more than 40 years, TKTS was our on-the-day theatre ticket box office in Leicester Square. Currently closed due to the current situation, we are now selling our great last minute seats and prices online. Click here to learn more.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.