Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Theater Cancels Anti-semitic Play

January 23, 1987
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Royal Court Theatre announced Wednesday night that it has cancelled the presentation of a play which depicts Zionists as collaborators with the Nazis in the mass destruction of Hungarian Jewry during World War II.

The play, titled “Perdition,” was due to open shortly for a five-week run at the prestigious West End theater. It was withdrawn following angry protests by the Jewish community and by scholars and historians who branded it a vicious travesty, after reading the script.

The playwright, Jim Allen, is a Trotskyist who makes no secret of his antipathy for Zionists though he claims to be pro-Jewish. “Perdition” is based loosely on the desperate attempts of Jewish leaders in Budapest to save Jewish lives by offering the Nazis trucks and money during the last year of the war.

Dr. David Cesarani, a London University historian, called the play “one of the most serious examples of anti-Semitic thinking seen in this country for many years. It revives the anti-Semitism that goes back to ‘The Merchant of Venice’.”

Allen called the cancellation “an absolutely disgraceful form of censorship” and accused the Royal Court of succumbing to pressure. The cast also deplored the cancellation. Allen is reportedly looking for another theater to stage his play.

Recommended from JTA