12-37

At 12.37pm on 22 July 1946, the King David Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed. 91 people were killed, 46 wounded.

The bombing was carried out by right wing Zionists, targeting the headquarters of the British in Palestine.

Two Irish Jewish brothers, Paul and Cecil Green, journey from their Dublin birthplace, to battling antisemitism on the streets of East London. After the war their Irish nationalism propels them towards Jewish nationalism as they struggle against British Imperialism to form a Jewish nation state.

As violence between British soldiers, and Jewish terrorists erupts, Paul and Cecil become involved in an act of terrorism that changes both their lives.

12:37 raises complex and controversial questions around Jewish violence, homeland and national identity in a stunning new play that is both a hard-hitting historical epic and an intimate family drama.

SCENE ONE

DUBLIN

1935. A bedroom in a poorly furnished house. A man is in the bed. He is in his sixties, thin and dying. Three sons are in the bedroom with him.

CECIL

Shema Yisroel Adenoi Elohanu--

PAUL

It won’t help.

CECIL

Adenoi Echod.

PAUL

‘Hear O Israel. The Lord is One ‘ What the hell is Israel of the Lord for da?

CECIL

We can pray.

PAUL

Sure, and I’m going to marry Marlene Dietrich.

HENRY

Now you’re talking.

PAUL

Let’s get it over with. The poor bastard is in agony.

CECIL

We all agree. (Beat.) That’s certain?

HENRY

Agree or not agree, it’s all a lot of bloody nonsense.

PAUL

Like your bloody stupid prayers.

CECIL

What about ma?

PAUL

What about her?

HENRY

Should she be asked?

PAUL

What’s the point?

HENRY

Cecil’s right. We should ask her.

PAUL

Look, you eejits. They give him three weeks at the most. That’s three weeks of vomiting blood and screaming in pain. You want more of that?

CECIL

What’s the hurry?

PAUL

You know what that pain is like? It’s not like one of your bloody migraines, you know.

HENRY

You’re in an awful rush. Sure you haven’t got a pretty nurse to see?

PAUL

And if I have, what’s it to you?

CECIL

Eileen Reilly. You want to get in her knickers, is that it?

PAUL

Jaysus, will you give me a bit of peace? Do we or don’t we?

HENRY

Let’s vote?

PAUL

Sure. We could ask Dev if he wants to count the vote if you like.

CECIL

A vote’s a good idea.

PAUL

Right.

CECIL

Suppose he can hear us?

PAUL

Of course he can bloody hear us. And he’s wishing we’d put him out of his misery now. He can’t eat, his bones are sticking out worse than a Friday night chicken after you lot’ve been picking at it. Is that a life worth living?

HENRY

When there’s life, there’s no hope?

PAUL

Stomach cancer is no hope.

CECIL

But is it allowed? What does the Talmud say?

PAUL

Jaysus, who cares what the bloody Talmud says, do we go ahead or not?

CECIL

We vote.

PAUL

Who’s for putting him out of his misery?

HENRY

Suppose we ask him again?

PAUL

You meschuggah? He’s been begging for out for the past week.

HENRY

He might not be ready.

PAUL

Ready. Ready? Who is his right mind is ever ready? You want me to call a priest for the last rites?

CECIL

He was so proud when we all graduated. Sitting so proud, like a little Litvak. And you remember how he pulled out four cigars from his pocket. We sat there smoking. Saying nothing. Like he was Abraham with three new sons. (Beat.) You know, every night, I dream I am back there taking finals. Sitting, looking at the bloody question, and not knowing the answers. Every morning, I wake up sweating.

HENRY

Me too. Only I am in surgery. The patient is ready. And suddenly my mind is blank. Is it an appendix I have to do, or a hernia?

CECIL

I never wanted to be a doctor.

HENRY

I never knew that.

CECIL

A chazan. Just to sing in the synagogue would have done me fine.

PAUL

A cantor! Jaysus, will you get that head out of the shtetl and into the twentieth century?

HENRY

I didn’t want to be a doctor, either.

PAUL

Jaysus, now it’s confession time?

CECIL

What then?

HENRY

A pilot.

PAUL

Yes, and I wanted to be Johnny Weissmuller in ‘Tarzan.’

CECIL

God help you.

PAUL

Well then, God or no God, do we take this great bloody democratic vote or not?

HENRY

We vote. But if one of us disagrees, then we don’t do it.

CECIL

Done.

PAUL

Gentlemen and gentlemen, we are gathered together tonight to vote on whether we shall allow our beloved father to suffer in agony for several more weeks until the good Lord takes him and turns him into dust, or whether we shall set aside our Hippocratic oath and inject a fatal dose of morphine. All who wish to help our father, soon to be in heaven, raise their right hand.

CECIL

Shema Yisroel adonai elohainu adonai echad. (Beat.) As long as it’s not me that does it.

Henry lifts his hand. Cecil lifts his hand while praying with his eyes closed. Henry looks at Paul.