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Review of Davy the Punk -- The very Jewish story of my father's life in the gambling business

by Jane Enkin, July 17, 2014

Davy the Punk -- The very Jewish story of my father's life in the gambling business
Written and performed by Bob Bossin
July 16-27, 2014 at Prairie Theatre Exchange

Bob Bossin was a young adult when he learned that the father he loved and admired was “Davy the Punk,” notorious in the gambling underworld of Toronto in the thirties and forties. Not that he gambled himself – he was too smart for that, telling young Bob, “All horse players die broke.”

Davy Bossin was quiet, never kept a diary and didn't tell much about his underworld life to his son. When he decided to explore his father's adventures, though, Bob Bossin found police reports and court records with loads of information. More personal stories came from family members. Bossin has rich memories of his own to share with the audience as well. His play is packed with great stories, often told with Yiddish phrases (all of them immediately translated), and there are even more in Bossin's memoir, for sale in the lobby before and after the show.

Davy the Punk is a delightful island of calm and intelligence in the often manic Fringe repertoire. The humour is gentle, touched throughout with tenderness and nostalgia. Even the most unsavoury characters come across as admirable in their own way. Ben the Shoichet, Shnooky Shneider, crooked jockeys and gangsters big-time and small all come to life. Only the “Uplifters” who tried to shut down gambling in Ontario don't get much respect.

I've loved Bossin's singing, songwriting and guitar playing for years. He was a member of Stringband, which had a reunion concert at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 2013, and has had a long solo recording and concert career. Musically he's in fine form in this show. The songs are a significant part of the play, sometimes telling the story, sometimes letting Bossin go deeper into the feelings connected with these memories.

There's a strong visual element to the show too. Although the only props are a weathered hat and a well-travelled guitar, period photos help us to imagine the settings and round out the portraits of the characters Bossin creates with his expressive voice.

With sprinklings of Yiddish, tastes of wisdom and a generous helping of original songs, Bob Bossin creates a delicious glimpse into a forgotten Jewish-Canadian era.

For a trailer or more information go to
To buy tickets, or for Fringe information go to

Performance Schedule

Wednesday, July 16 - 5:45 PM
Thursday, July 17 - 10:00 PM
Friday, July 18 - 8:30 PM
Saturday, July 19 - 6:30 PM
Sunday, July 20 - 10:00 PM
Monday, July 21 - 8:15 PM
Tuesday, July 22 - 3:45 PM
Wednesday, July 23 - 8:30 PM
Thursday, July 24 - 10:15 PM
Friday, July 25 - 6:00 PM
Saturday, July 26 - 8:30 PM
Sunday, July 27 - 1:30 PM


Jane Enkin Music and Story at

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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