Marriage is hard. It requires compromise, understanding, and sensitivity to your spouse/significant other’s flaws.
The new play, The Wanderers, by Anna Ziegler follows two Jewish couples (one semi-secular and one religious) and a movie star. Abe (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Sophie (Sarah Cooper) are married and have two children. Both are writers. But while Abe is successful, Sophie’s career is floundering.
Esther (Lucy Freyer) and Schmuli (Dave Klasko) start out as Hasidic newlyweds. Though all seems well in the beginning, they start to emotionally drift from one another. Schmuli is happy to continue with the traditions that he grew up with. But Esther is eager to expand her world.
The narrative is brought together by an email correspondence that Abe has with actress Julia Cheever (Katie Holmes). Though it starts innocently enough, their relationship becomes deeper than expected.
Set in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, this play is fantastic. Though these characters live in a specific neighborhood and live a specific lifestyle, their stories are universal. It’s about trying to find yourself and knowing that in doing so, you may have to break with everything and everyone you love.
What the playwright does especially well is to humanize the character. With antisemitism on the rise, it is easy to create a 2D stereotype. By making them human, she (hopefully) opens the door to a conversation about what we all have in common. She also brings (much-needed) attention to Jews of color, who are often ignored or pushed aside.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Wanderers are playing at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre Laura Pels theater in New York City until April 2. Check the website for tickets and showtimes.