Written and performed by Tessa Kim; Directed by Sarah Wansley
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 8.28.15
VENUE #4: Spectrum, 121 Ludlow Street, 2nd floor
by Shoshana Roberts on 8.22.15
Tessa Kim in The Bad German: A Solo Show about Identity, Guilt, and the Wurst in All of Us.
BOTTOM LINE: Tessa has to get over her German guilt when she moves to New York.
How much do you know about where you come from? How much have you actually learned about your grandparents? Tessa Kim is from Germany and has reason to believe that one of her grandparents was a Nazi. Now normally this would just be a strange factoid not to bring up at parties, but to a young girl who has never met someone Jewish this is a frustratingly scary predicament. Still, she makes the journey as a foreign exchange student to New York City. Having never encountered Jews prior to this, she acts with fear and nervousness when she sees “little Jewish hats,” “big Jewish Hats,” and an “extra Jewish person.”
Trying to keep her German citizenship a secret, she quits her job at Shlomo's restaurant, rather than admit her heritage. In fact, Tessa feels like it is okay that Shlomo forgot to pay her because of what her German ancestors did during World War II. Her friends slowly start to realize her fear of Jews and as she searches for meaning Ms. Kim tries her hardest to avoid releasing her “inner Nazi whore.”
Everything from uncircumcised penises and being humped by a German therapist to energy healing and cheerleading is included in The Bad German. As a tool for humor and to ease transitions, Ms. Kim utilizes the extremely talented pianist Alexander Rovang. They share some periodic exchanges as she plays off of his music and his interjections.
Perhaps it was the comfortable cushioned chair I was seated in, but there were some sections where the pace felt like it needed to be picked up a bit. Her periodic chanting, “I am at ease with my German-ness,” paired with her rendition of the beautiful Hebrew kids song "Shalom Chaverim," also worked to lull me into a relaxed state.
(The Bad German: A Solo Show About Identity, Guilt, and the Wurst in All of Us plays at VENUE #4: Spectrum, 121 Ludlow Street, 2nd floor, through August 29, 2015. Performances are Fri 8/14 at 5; Mon 8/17 at 5:30; Thu 8/20 at 9:30; Mon 8/24 at 6; and Fri 8/28 at 8. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at fringenyc.org. For more information visit thebadgerman.com.)