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Off West End

Surfing the Holyland – Drayton Arms Theatre

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am on my way to see this Edinburgh Fringe preview of this play on a hot Sunday evening in London, with the air feeling sticky and hot, almost like in Tel Aviv. All I need is a bowl of falafels to feel almost like the main character of the play – that’s what I call a proper immersive theatre (well, unexpectedly immersive)!

Surfing Tel Aviv

Erin Hunter in “Surfing the Holyland”, photo: Slackline Productions

From a perspective of a woman who moved countries more than once in my lifetime: “Surfing the Holyland” is so real, it hurts (but only your stomach, as you’re going to laugh for a good hour!). A wonderfully funny one-woman monologue about moving to Israel, suffering from culture shock, and dealing with some seriously nosey locals and handsome surfing instructors is a delightful show that’s a pleasure to watch until the very last minute.
Erin Hunter plays 12 different characters, with extremely different voices and personalities. Whenever a new character appears, he/she is given a 2-3 sentence introduction, written with so much wit and sarcasm, I loved it! It gives the show almost a “video game” vibe where you have to get to know every character in the game to ask them for items or help, to make it till the end of the level. And, well… It’s exactly what happens in the play, too!

A one-woman story filled with warm, physical comedy humour

From feeling completely alien-like, through making first awkward connections, to finding own community and friends through surfing – this story on the mental level could happen almost anywhere. The physical and cultural layer is extremely Israeli though – we get to know the life in Tel Aviv via the local celebrations, Shabbat dinners, and even trips to a local Ikea where the local orthodox community hangs out.

It’s a very physically demanding performance, with the plastic boxes being constantly moved and used as a surfboard, chair, or a seat in the temple. Hunter jumps on and off the surfboard, sets up a new home, and plays the ukulele (there are 4 brilliant original songs, and each of them made the whole audience laugh out loud), all using the slightly messy set elements.

The captivating performance is accompanied by a simple yet spot-on sound design, showcasing the sounds of everyday Israeli life, like mosque prayers, sea waves, or nightclub music. With the sweaty hot temperature in the tiny Drayton Arms Theatre auditorium, you could feel like on a crowded, hot Tel Aviv street.

If like me, you are an immigrant, you are going to love this show. Get a friend, grab a g&t and see this show in Edinburgh, where it’s heading next month for the Edinburgh Fringe.


Surfing the Holyland

Drayton Arms Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe

The Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe (2.55pm, Dairy Room, Bristo Square 3-29 August 2022, no show 15 August)

Zuzanna Chmielewska

Digital Marketer by profession, published travel book author, avid theatre goer and an amateur Malaysia tour guide in my free time. Find me in one of London's theatres, travelling in Asia or cooking and photographing new recipes in my kitchen. I would try anything once (at least!). My theatre blog:




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