John Safran: Jew Detective
The Factory, Garden of Unearthly Delights
John Safran has made a career out of finding ways to get himself into trouble (some of them planned and others more serendipitous) since he had the Australian public glued to their screens way back in 1997 for the ABCs Race Around the World. This was reality TV before reality TV existed – but it was more than that – it was hyper surreal TV where you were compelled to watch because you just didn’t know what he would attempt next. Since then he has had a number of successful programs and written a couple of books, so he has plenty of material to work with when it came to pulling together Jew Detective.
Judging by the size of the crowd, his name the unknown of what he will say and how far it will go still has considerable pulling power.
Jew Detective as a title doesn’t give much away in terms of what the performance actually covers, so people who arrived thinking this would be an extension of his recent foray into true crime may have been a little disappointed. Instead, the narrative loosely connects a series of Safran’s life incidents, philosophical musings and general troublemaking to build a case against ideologues. Blending a mix of video (classic Safran stirring), music and other imagery, Jew Detective highlights the hypocrisies of ideologues of all types. The performance itself feels a little bit like a work in progress. The storytelling isn’t as tight as Safran’s on screen achievements, and it doesn’t flow as smoothly and logically as you might expect.
That said, there’s a lot of great stories and they will no doubt develop with each retelling as Safran is talented wordsmith. Definitely a prompt to dive back into the archives of his work on YouTube and look into his more recent adventures into print. His Instagram seems to get him into a lot of trouble too, so if you like your social media stirringly sarcastic, check it out.
Review by Sarah List