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Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting, These Demons is a thrilling new dark comedy-horror and the debut play of Rachel Bellman, exploring family ties, sisterhood, and Jewish demonology.

These Demons delves into what it means to feel ‘other’, whether through culture, age, or willingness to conform. It weaves together different types of demons from historical texts and sources in ways that can be interpreted literally and metaphorically as well as mythologically.

I got the chance to speak to the shows writer Rachel Bellman to find out more about the show and to also find out what the development of the show was like.


What is These Demons about?

These Demons is about a 17-year-old called Leah who goes on a mission of revenge after her aunt Mirah is attacked. Leah is determined to find the person she thinks did it – a teen from Mirah’s village – and so she runs away from home and ends up in her aunt’s remote cottage in the woods. While there, she starts to remember the stories her aunt has told her about Jewish demons and exorcisms, and she becomes convinced the cottage is haunted.

What was the inspiration for the show? And why?

The spark was when I learned that different types of demons existed within Judaism. It’s not something I was taught while growing up, and I was fascinated by this darker, inexplicable side of my religion and the fact that very few people know about it. To me it speaks to the elements of our lives that we suppress, hide, don’t want to talk about or admit, and that are fundamentally unknowable.

Can you expand on the show's theme “family drama”?

To me, exploring something connected to Judaism naturally lent itself to explorations of family ties, heritage, and the bonds that do and don’t form between family. The play focuses on two sisters and their aunt, and over the course of the show their relationships with each other are truly tested as they’re forced to rethink their assumptions about who they are.

How long did it take to develop the show? And how has that process


It’s been two and a half years since I started writing the first draft, although I’ve wanted to write a play about Jewish demons for quite a lot longer. During the 2020 lockdown I mentioned the idea of Jewish demons to director Jasmine Teo, who instantly said she wanted to direct a play about it. That gave me the motivation I needed to figure out the story.

It’s been a really creative and collaborative process, as I’ve worked with both Jasmine and Tanya the producer on the play since summer 2021 when we were lucky enough to get an Arts Council grant for an R&D. Throughout the process I’ve made sure to get plenty of feedback from Jewish and non-Jewish creatives, as well as to keep checking my research into the demonology. We did a second ACE-funded R&D in autumn 2022, which is when Theatre503 saw a reading and miraculously offered us a production slot!

What is the shows target audience?

Fans of new playwriting. Fans of horror/thriller/comedy drama. Audiences who are keen for an original and entertaining story. Jewish audiences who may or may not know about the demonology and may or may not go to the theatre. Theatre audiences who are intrigued to see a cultural subject matter they may not know about. Plus others who I’ve forgotten!


What do you want the audience to learn / take away when seeing the show?

That there’s more than one way of talking about demons and that even though a lot of horror archetypes and tropes come from one culture, there are loads of others out there. That when we label people as ‘other’ this leads to fear, and fear can lead to hate, hate to violence, and that this never ends well. That if we try to empathise with strangers in the same the way we empathise with those we love, the world might be a better place.

How do you think audiences will react to the show?

I don’t know quite what I think but what I hope is that they’ll embrace the comedy-horror elements and will laugh as well as be scared!

What are your hopes for the show?

I hope that audiences will connect with the show, and feel like they’ve gone on an emotional rollercoaster while getting to know the characters. I hope that everyone in the team can be proud of their work. I can’t control how it will be received but I hope that everyone involved or who watches it feels like they’ve been part of something original and new.

Favourite part of the show?

Right now it’s a moment two thirds of the way through the show where Leah goes out into the woods. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a moment where the reality-bending of the horror melds with the reality-bending of the form and the whole thing becomes a bit surreal in an inexplicable but hopefully exciting way.

Describe the show in one sentence.

These Demons is a horror-comedy exploring Jewish demonology and different types of demons, both metaphorical and mythological.


Writer Rachel Bellman comments, I’ve been excited and afraid to tell this story for a number of years now. Jewish demonology isn’t something I learned about while growing up, but as soon as I heard of its existence, I wanted to write about it. The more I tried to research it, the less I felt I knew. To me this is a story about what we do and don’t know about who we are, where we’re from, and all the nagging, darker thoughts that creep up on us but we’re afraid to admit.

Director Jasmine Teo comments, From the moment Rachel told me about the concept for These Demons I was struck by its originality and uniqueness. Over the past two and a half years we’ve worked together to develop a modern-day horror/thriller/comedy, a genre-blending tale which is entertaining but pertinent, speaks to a multitude of cultural communities and is unlike anything else I’ve come across. I can’t wait to bring it to life on stage.

for more info about the show see below at the important show info.



These Demons

Tuesday 26th September – Saturday 14th October


85 minutes (no interval)

Age Guide 14+

This show contains themes that some audience members may find distressing.

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