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The Only Jew in England

East 15 Acting School’s The Secret History Season at The Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, provides a platform for an exciting collaboration between two powerhouses of post-war British theatre that have helped transform the cultural landscape of East London and Essex.

To book, please call Box Office on 01708 443333.

Having committed to extend the experience of the graduate year of the BA Acting course in 2017 and to find them new stages on which to perform, East 15 first chose to commission two new plays from leading writers. They then sought to take this work beyond the confines of their own campus theatres and, having already worked with the venue on successful foyer performances in the past, found a perfect partner for the venture in the Queen’s Theatre.

The two new plays that form the The Secret History Season both explore current issues of sexuality and gender politics, migration and cultural identity through the prism of history.

Playwright Samantha Ellis (Arcola, Birmingham Rep, Hampstead Theatre) tells the extraordinary tale of Dom. Marco Raphael, the only Jew in England at the time of Henry VIII, picking his way through a murky world of court intrigue, racism, and prejudice. With scintillating wit and piercing compassion, The Only Jew in England brings to life a world of music, glamour, flirtation and gripping political tension

Samantha Ellis explains:

“The Only Jew in England is based on a true story. In 1531, trying to get his divorce from Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII had the bright idea of consulting a Jewish scholar, to see if he could find legal arguments to convince the Pope. The trouble was that there were no Jews in England. They’d all been expelled in 1290. So Dom Marco Raphael was brought over from Venice, a rabbi who had supposedly converted to Christianity, although he probably hadn’t. He was also a bit of a chancer, whose sidelines included spying, import export and his own recipe for invisible ink. I had been wanting to write about the rise in anti-Semitism today, and the fear of difference, and when I heard about Dom Marco I thought I could do that by writing about Tudor England where people had all kinds of wild ideas about Jews, despite the fact that Dom Marco was officially the only Jew to set foot in the country. When I discovered that Henry VIII’s court was full of secret Jews—including (possibly) the musicians who formed his reluctant backing band—I got excited about looking at how Jews and other minorities respond to hatred, whether they try to defiantly live loud and proud, or whether they live in disguises of various kinds. So this is a story about racism, a love story, and also a romp and a bodice-ripper set in a Tudor world that is full of difference, and also full of fear of difference, all set against the backdrop of Henry VIII making his very own Brexit.”

Suitable for ages 16+

Pay what you think it’s worth‘ scheme.


Evening Performances 7.30pm | Matinee Performance 2.30pm


Pay what you think it's worth.
See link below for more details.

Running Time

150 mins including an interval


20 mins


Main House

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