Rootless Cosmopolitans

Anton Berezin and Babs McMillan in Rootless Cosmopolitans photo by Gavin D. AndrewIn the program notes for Ron Elisha’s new play, Rootless Cosmopolitans, the award-winning playwright states, “Most of us, when we think of anti-Semitism – if we do at all – have in our minds an image of grainy, black-and-white newsreel footage of wasted corpses being bulldozed into ditches.”

Written before the attacks that took place in Israel’s Negev Desert on 7 October 2023, an action that shocked the world, “together with its aftermath, have since completely altered the landscape for Jews throughout the world,” compelled the playwright to rework the text of the play.

Rootless Cosmopolitans centres around artistic director Ira Brot (Anton Berezin), who has transformed a small, struggling theatre company into an international sensation. Thrown into the mix is the women in his life – his Jewish convert wife; the theatre company chairperson; an ambitious assistant director; and his long dead mother.

Ira has the world at his feet but one little tweet threatens to derail his perfect life… “This timely and thought-provoking black comedy explores the polarising power of social media, antisemitism, and the minefield of identity politics” – coming together to create a perfect storm.

Elisha’s writing is intelligent and engaging. Peppered with one line zingers, the repartee between mother and son comes thick and fast. Cleverly dark, but don’t be fooled. The issues raised here are serious, simmering just below the surface, until they boil over.

In her fourth collaboration with the playwright, Director Suzanne Heywood has assembled a terrific cast who do much justice to Elisha’s script. Berezin delivers a well-measured performance as Ira Bott.

In a welcome return to the stage, Babs McMillan as Freda, gives a stellar turn as Ira’s long dead mother and looks absolutely gorgeous in an outfit sourced by Kim Bishop.

Berezin and McMillan are ably supported by Seon Williams as Georgia Park, the ambitious theatre director who ticks all the diversity boxes; and Emily Joy who plays the duel roles of Glenda, Ira’s converted wife and Viola, the theatre company chairperson.

In the intimate confines of the Chapel Off Chapel Loft, the stage design is simple allowing the locations in the play to flow unimpeded – thoughtfully lit by Jason Bovaird with an engaging colour palette and moody silhouettes. Sandro Falce’s sound design provides some surprising touches.

While Elisha doesn’t pretend to offer solutions to the societal issues raised in Rootless Cosmopolitans, he does however, provide much food for thought for the audience to make up their own mind. A fulfilling night in the theatre.

Rootless Cosmopolitans
Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel Street, Prahran
Performance: Thursday 16 May 2024
Season continues to 2 June 2024

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Anton Berezin and Babs McMillan in Rootless Cosmopolitans – photo by Gavin D. Andrew

Review: Rohan Shearn