Secrets of the Elders of Zion

Add another star to this review if you are familiar with Jewish culture. Hayden Cohen talks about a secret Jewish society that aims to take over the world and his scepticism about its existence, but at the same time longing to be a part of it. With a lot of references to this Jewish society, many of the puns go over the head of the non-Jewish audience, but seemed to amuse others much more.

Cohen starts by singing along to a projected animated short movie about various religious groups fighting each other, which is a promising start of a sarcastic and dark-humoured piece about religion. He then continues to explain the historic misfortunes of Jewish society, again helped by the projector. This is somewhat informative for a non-Jewish audience member such as myself and is light-hearted, though contains Jewish puns that are a little hit and miss. When he claims he wants to be a part of this society he expresses his longing through song, and it is these songs that are Cohen’s strong points. A song about Gematria, Hebrew numerology, gets some of the audience singing along and is the strongest part of the show with very witty lyrics. Another song involving a challah (bread) is quite successful as well.

The main flaw with the production is that Cohen is insecure and lacks faith in his own jokes and tries too hard to make people like his puns. The material is controversial but he doesn’t embrace it and take it where it could go, but instead shies away from it. The promising dark humoured sarcasm at the beginning gets lost. At one point he refuses to explain what Zionism is with the excuse that he could get killed, which is peculiar as he also claims that the aforementioned organisation doesn’t exist. With that said, with a little more conviction the show isn’t half bad and is close to the three star rating, even if you aren’t Jewish.


The Blurb

Hayden Cohen has always wanted to be an Elder of Zion. Unfortunately he's never been invited, so he decided to form the Elders of Zion UK branch himself. Shhh! It's a secret.