Daphna Baram: Something to Declare

Daphna Baram plays the outsider in England, reflecting on what makes people British from her own standpoint as an Israeli woman. The problem here is that we’ve been told what we’re like so many times before and unfortunately Baram has little new to add. Most of Something to Declare skits on the cultural differences between British and Israeli people, running through all the usual stereotypes- British pub culture, the British social reserve (as opposed to Baram’s imposing aunts), and eating turkey at Christmas. Baram’s more unique material shines when discussing life on the other side of the cultural divide. She proves to be a natural story-teller and brings a warm intelligence to her more extraordinary experiences as a human rights lawyer in Israel.

Baram is talented story-teller and delivers a routine full of interest and warmth.

Baram introduces herself with the bold claim that back in her own country she was… no, not a princess, but perhaps more importantly, middle class. Now she is a foreigner in a country with immigration issues, finding ways of extending her stay. Marriage to her hopeless friend Richard might be the only option.

The set is anchored around the ‘Life in the UK’ test that she and many others have to complete in order to be granted indefinite leave to remain in Britain. Questions on print-outs are raised before the audience in a pub quiz style run-through of the many crazy bits of knowledge deemed essential for the UK settling immigrant. Baram unpicks suspicious expectations behind the condescending questions. Although Baram’s energetic delivery is entertaining, many of the anecdotes interspersed between questions are baggy and long-winded, going on with little comic payoff.

Her most interesting story is about her first client as a lawyer, a young bungling suicide bomber who is used to illustrate the virtues of incompetence. Baram imagines his unsuccessful bus journey in compelling detail.

Baram is talented story-teller and delivers a routine full of interest and warmth. It has a lot to narrate, but if Baram could only up the laugh-rate Something to Declare would have something really worth declaring.

Broadway Baby Radio interview with Daphna Baram

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The Blurb

Daphna Baram, an Israeli human rights lawyer turned journalist, a bleeding heart and an inadvertent anthropologist of British life gets herself leave to remain in the UK, builds a New Jerusalem in East London and plans to become Nigel Farage's worst nightmare. A laughter-dotted journey about immigration, politics, assimilation and the essence of home, as a Middle Easterner struggles to decipher the peculiarities of her ever British hosts. ‘Explosive’ (Walthamstow Guardian). ‘Wonderful, hilarious, important’ **** (BroadwayBaby.com). Directed by Amanda Baker.