Crossing Jerusalem Actor Profile: Chris Spyrides

Chris Spyrides as SERGE GOLDSTEIN
Chris Spyrides as SERGE GOLDSTEIN

Welcome to an eight part interview series featuring the cast members of Crossing Jerusalem.  Check back daily for the next installment.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your character in Crossing Jerusalem.

My name is Chris Spyrides and I play Sergei Goldstein in Crossing Jerusalem.  He’s a Russian Jew, who once served in the Red Army and moved to Israel about ten years prior to the action of the play. He has left a series of massive personal and political events behind him: the death of his soldier son in the Soviet–Afghan War, the subsequent break-up of his second marriage and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  When the audience meet Sergei, he has been married to Varda, the matriarch of the play, for eight years.  He has become a bit disillusioned with living in ‘The Promised Land’. After narrowly surviving a bomb attack where he witnessed the death of many from his Russian community, he has also seen his employment prospects suffer during the Intifada, to the point where he has now been reduced to assisting his wife’s property business, something that frustrates him deeply. Although having suffered a lot of tragedy, Sergei is actually a positive force in the family group, often playing peacemaker, although his usual philosophical outlook is now being tested, for sure.

Serge seems to have no issues traveling in Jerusalem during the play.  Why is that?

He does have issues with it but he puts those fears aside for a few reasons. Firstly, he has more of an issue being stuck in the office all day. He’d rather risk stones, gunfire and bombs than have to lick another stamp! He also believes in this family more than they seem to and he hopes that the birthday outing to Sammy’s restaurant will bring them all closer together and strengthen them as a unit. On top of this, it’s Yael’s birthday, the Algerian Jewish wife of Varda’s son Gideon.  As a fellow ‘outsider’ to this family, he feels a special affinity for her and knows that Varda’s poor opinion of Yael has to be compensated for. For him, these are all bigger issues.

Serge seems to be the one person that calms everyone.  Why is that?

He believes in this family deeply, even though they’re an argumentative bunch who are often tearing strips off each other.  Sergei’s positivity and strength are the glue that holds the family together.  He makes an effort to calm arguments or tense moments by any means necessary. Usually it’s as the classic fool, often allowing himself to be perceived as naïve, idiotic, or a joker, sacrificing his own status for the greater good.  Underneath it all, he has a moral depth and emotional intelligence that the family need.

Rehearsal photo of Chris Spyrides as Serge Goldstein (Photo credit: Habie Schwarz)

Have you ever worked with Julia Pascal?

This is my first time I’ve worked with Julia Pascal and rehearsals have been great.  She’s very clear in what she wants but also has a free way of working. She’s also willing to assimilate suggestions and as a former actor herself she has great belief in the actor’s craft. Julia welcomes the variety of skills that we bring to the mix and you can see how much the work excites her.

Why should people come see Crossing Jerusalem at Park Theatre?

It’s a beautiful, passionate, visceral and poetic play which is often funny and sometimes harrowing. It’s very even-handed about a very complex subject which doesn’t happen very often when it comes to the Israel/Palestine situation. We have a great international cast of actors and it’s been a joy to rehearse.  I look around the room and think we’re capable of making something magical.

Crossing Jerusalem – Written and Directed by Julia Pascal

Synopsis: Set during the 2002 intifada, and just before the invasion of Iraq, Crossing Jerusalem is a potent and dynamic exploration of the theatre of war. The play describes 24 hours in the life of an Israeli family who cross Jerusalem to eat in an Arab village. In the course of a single day Arab and Jewish histories burst into the present in the most politically tense city in the world.

Venue & Address: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP
Telephone booking number: 020 7870 6876
Booking website:
Direct link to book tickets online click here

Opening and closing dates: Dates: Tues 4 August – Sat 29 August 2015 (Preview 4th and 5th August)
Times: 7.45pm Tues – Sat / Thu & Sat Matinees 3.15pm
Prices: £12.50 Previews / £18 Full / £15 Concessions /
£12.50 Tuesdays Residents with N.London postcode or Under 25s