Monday, March 20, 2023
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Indecent - The Rabbi's daughter and the prostitute

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk

This play is important. This production is important. It deserves to be seen. It has to be seen.

With an ensemble of seven extraordinary actors who play multiple parts with the exception of the brilliant Richard Topol as the Stage Manager and three musicians who are woven into the fabric of the play deftly written by Paula Vogel and directed with great imagination and sensitivity by her collaborator on this project Rebecca Taichman we bear witness to “the true story of a little Jewish play” – GOD of VENGEANCE by Sholem Asch (1906) – a Yiddish melodrama.

Its conception, its production, its troubles as it traveled across the continent and ultimately its censorship as it reached Broadway in 1923 resulting in its actors being jailed for indecency.

All because of a kiss. A kiss between two women. In a spectacular rain scene. The daughter of a Rabbi who lives above a brothel that he runs finds herself falling in love with one of the prostitutes.

Lemml, the stage manager believes in the play from the beginning even when its author doesn’t. And it is his perseverance that we follow through several “blinks in time” a great theatrical device – one of many that director Rebecca Taichman has come up with to make this hour and forty five minute lesson in what happened then could happen now.

With supertitles both in English and Yiddish that help clarify time and place and what language is being spoken make everything crystal clear although English is spoken throughout. A fine accomplishment on its own.

Everything works in this very special production. There is heartache and humor. Style and substance. The music is especially wonderful by Matt Darriau, Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva.

The ensemble of actors are Richard Topol, Katrina Lenk, Mimi Lieber, Max Gordon Moore, Tom Nelis, Steven Rattazzi and Adina Verson.

Go and be tremendously moved. Be entertained. Laugh and cry. And most importantly be reminded of the horrors of censorship and its repercussions. At The Cort Theatre.

Photo: Carol Rosegg