“Café Named Desire” is an original new musical about love, sexuality, and self discovery. It is a lighthearted musical comedy conceived by the JEWish Cabaret, and is the first musical written by Djemal & Shamai following their successful original productions in previous years.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a video recording of the musical as performed in its first ever run back in 2018 will be available for streaming as part of the Online Fringe Festival (OFF) for a week between the 11th-17th of May. Streaming of the show is completely free, with proceeds from donations going towards The JEWish Cabaret's artist relief fund.
This first iteration of "Café Named Desire" premiered in July 2018 under the working title - "Jew You Love Me?" at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre and received very positive reviews. "Jew You Love Me?" subsequently toured Israel following an invitation from the International Festival of Contemporary Jewish Culture in Jerusalem in November 2018.
We have since renamed the musical “Café Named Desire” and made some rewrites to the book, music, and lyrics, with the view to produce a full run of the musical in autumn or the beginning of next year following a few table-reads and an R&D prior to a full production.
SYNOPSIS “Café Named Desire” (previously known as "Jew You Love Me?") is an original musical about love, sexuality, and self discovery. It tells the story of a local café in Golders Green, and the intertwining lives of its customers.
Though many of the people who frequent the café are of Jewish/Israeli background, the café is owned by Samira, a queer woman who comes from a strict Muslim background, which she abandoned following the backlash of her coming out as a teen. Sam runs the café with her two flatmates – Gabi; a Jewish professional searching for love in the wrong places, and Will; a bisexual musician whose quest for a Bohemian lifestyle leaves little room for emotional attachment.
We also get to know some of the café’s regulars, including Ethan and Alon, a gay couple struggling with the concepts of monogamy and heteronormativity. We then meet Rachel and Yaakov, an elderly Jewish couple determined to make the most of the time they have left together, and their grand-daughter Bracha, a closeted religious university student who is torn between her religious and sexual identities.
As the musical unfolds, the lives of our characters are weaved together, creating three main storylines: A love triangle turned polyamorous “throuple” between Ethan, Alon, and Will; Gabi and Sam’s failed attempt at turning their friendship into a relationship; and Bracha’s ongoing struggle with her sexuality and its subsequent effects on her relationships with her grandparents and the patrons of the café.
CAST & CREATIVE TEAM Writers & Directors - David Djemal, Shachar Shamai Additional songs by - Emily Rose-Simons (“Swipe to the Right”, “Blessing”) Production Manager - Anna Oggero Musical Director - Kieran Stallard Developed and produced in a collaborative process with our cast (in order of appearance): Martha Pothen (Sam), Ashley Racov (Gabi), Jack Reitman (Will), Batel Israel (Rachel), Josh Becker (Yakov), Alex Ayliffe (Ethan), Ido Gonen (Alon), Tanya Truman (Bracha), and Adi Loya (Dina). Videography: Yue Wang Video Editing: David Djemal