Daniel Nelson

Checkpoint Chana is where criticism of the Israeli government and military elides into anti-Semitism.

Checkpoint Chana

Checkpoint Chana

Image by Finborough Theatre

Or does it? Poet Bev doesn't think so, and has written a poem about it, but nearly everybody else does.

So does she have to apologise? Bev doesn't really see the need. Others do.

That's the crux of this short play for four characters at the Finborough Theatre.

Because it’s the Finborough, you know the play and the production will be quality. It’s well acted, in a spare, effective set, and Jeff Page can write. It never quite catches fire, though, because the central idea isn’t explored with enough complexity: on the one hand, there’s a line in a poem about an Israeli border guard (“she searches her bag like a nazi”) and, on the other, a Jewish journalist’s experience of anti-Semitism in north London.

Most of the play isn’t really about these different approaches to Mideast faultlines (for that, you’d be better off reading recent correspondence in The London Review of Books). It’s more about the character and behaviour of Bev, but this, too, though interesting and nicely imagined, isn’t fully developed.

So the sum falls short of the parts, though it’s a pleasure to watch, and if you know little about the Jewish/Zionist debate, it’s an entertaining introduction.

* Checkpoint Chana is at the Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, SW10, on 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 March. Info: 7244 7439/ 0844 847 1652/ admin@finboroughtheatre.co.uk/  https://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/

+ Also at the Finborough: Returning to Haifa, the first English-language adaptation of the novella by Ghassan Kanafani, it’s a story of two families – one Palestinian, one Israeli – forced by history into an intimacy they didn't choose; until 24 March.

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