5 Kilo Sugar

Tik-sho-ret (‘communication’) Theatre Company have achieved their manifesto of giving a platform to Israeli and Jewish theatre. After a short run in London, they’ve come to Edinburgh with 5 Kilo Sugar, a touching story about the journey a young man takes to ensure his late grandfather’s legacy is not forgotten. Gur Koren was inspired by real-life events to write this sentimental comedy, which is peppered with Yiddish humour, to perfect taste.

The play strikes a good balance between showcasing Israeli culture and remaining accessible to a non-Jewish audience.

Gur’s grandfather’s spirit returns to earth with an urgent request: Gur must right a wrong that would otherwise torment his grandfather’s afterlife forever. The charming old man presents himself through various people that Gur meets, which lends itself to hilarious changes of character as we see a beggar, a car stereo salesman and a prostitute suddenly adopt the grandfather’s distinct voice and physicality. Impatient and cranky yet witty and absolutely loveable; his character is larger than life, even when dead.

The simple staging allows us to move swiftly through the locations of Gur’s journey, and the cast use direct address and visible costume changes to remind us that they are actors relaying a tale of true(ish) events. Their outlandish and somewhat stereotypical characters betray the realism expected of a ‘true story’, but the comedy is sustained by witty nuances in the script.

The cast is strong, with Michal Banai and Shai Forester showcasing their versatility with an array of distinct characters. Forester’s depiction of a bitter Israeli taxi driver is genial, and Banai is hilarious as the grandfather when he embodies a prostitute in the midst of pleasuring Gur. Spencer Cowan is a sheer joy to watch in his role as the excitedly camp academic, whose power to rewrite the grandfather’s legacy allows him to barter for sexual favours (a mildly jarring plot choice delivered with taste). Gur Koren plays himself with ease. His character makes for a rather dull protagonist, but the richness of the others offers space for normalcy at the centre of this story.

The play strikes a good balance between showcasing Israeli culture and remaining accessible to a non-Jewish audience. It earns our attention as the concept is strong, but the play shies away from a darkness in the grandfather’s past which would add gravity to the play’s importance and offset the humour nicely. As it is, 5 Kilo Sugar is a sweet, nostalgic play and I look forward to seeing what Tik-sho-ret produce in the future. 

Reviews by Jessica Sydney-Leigh

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The Blurb

Hilarious, fast-paced comedy play following Gur Koren, whose late grandfather appears to him through people he knows and randomly meets. Set in Tel Aviv and written in the style of a mockumentary, the play is a farcical yet touching story of one man's journey to fulfil his grandfather's wishes. Tik-sho-ret Theatre Company brings 5 Kilo Sugar to Edinburgh after touring Brighton Fringe 2014 and fresh from previews at London's Etcetera Theatre. Written by Gur Koren, recent winner of Best Playwright for theatre in Israel.