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Review: This Jew Sits - Melbourne Fringe Festival

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by Mistress of Culture Vultures (subscribe)
I am a writer living in Melbourne who loves to devour culture and the arts. Visit me at
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Bette, death and Jewish dating
This week I saw This Jew Sits by Sarah Rueben at Arts House North Melbourne, in the Melbourne Fringe Festival, now showing until 1 October. Book your tickets here.

Jewish, Shemira, Death, Comedy, Dark, Arts House, Melbourne Fringe Festival, Tom Dickins, Ruby Gaytime
Sarah Rueben in 'This Jew Sits'

Sarah arrives late to the funeral home to start her 'Shemira' shift; a Jewish ritual where she sits with her deceased grandmother until her funeral. For Sarah this is a 12 hour overnight shift before she is replaced by the 'Jewish Benevolent Society'.

This is an uncomfortable situation for the bright and vivacious Sarah as she cannot imagine how she will survive 12 hours of 'sitting' next to a dead relative in a confined space.

To pass the time Sarah tells us about her failed dates with Jewish men, her rebellion against the expectations of Jewish culture, with funny stories of nights out on the town, drinking, partying and copulating with her boss' brother.

Throughout the performance Jewish music erupts and Sarah performs a traditional Jewish dance and Bette Midler voice gives her advice on how to be a better Jewess. A little like 'Big Brother' and the 'Diary Room'.

Eventually Bette breaks Sarah's party girl will, and demands that she take a deeper look at herself through 'Shemira'.

Sarah shares her childhood experiences and stories of the time spent with her grandmother watching the 'Naked News' on television and other funny stories. She delves into her grandmother's story; from losing her twin sister to surviving the Holocaust and the significance to Sarah's life today.

Sarah eventually reconciles her conflict with 'Shemira' and realises that some tradition is a good thing, and that perhaps this 12 hour shift is a good way to begin grieving for her grandmother, and her rite of passage into adulthood in the Jewish community.

Sarah Reuben is a comic and vivacious performer, and uses song, dance, puppetry to share this story with the audience. I look forward to seeing more of Sarah's work in the future.

Tomorrow is a public holiday, so head down to Arts House and see this show!
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Why? It's okay to talk about death
When: 6.30 pm, Sunday 5.30 pm
Phone: 03 9660 9600
Where: Fringe Hub - Parlour Room, Arts House North Melbourne Town Hall
Cost: $19.00 - $23.00
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