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.
Some of the most important works of our era last because they speak to the issues in our world that we continue to struggle with.
Recently, a new revival of Henrik Ibsen‘s A Doll’s House opened on Broadway. The play stars Jessica Chastain as Nora Helmer and Arian Moayed as her husband, Torvald. Though he loves her, he does not exactly respect her.
When Torvald accepts an offer of a new job (and a larger salary), it seems that their financial troubles are in the rearview mirror. But a secret from her past and a decision she made to save his life have come back to bite her in the ass.
It is amazing to me that this play was written when modern feminism was in its infancy and by a cisgender man who could have easily created a tragic character ( a la Anna Karenina).
Instead, Nora goes on a journey of emotional discovery that is complicated, disturbing, and revealing. In Chastain’s hands, you understand her want to be loved and her eventual desperation to find herself away from the labels she was raised to believe were normal.
Written by playwright Amy Herzog and told on a bare stage with the actors wearing modern clothing and moving around a circular slow-moving stage, the emphasis is on the story. In doing so, it reminds me the audience of not only the power of this story but that it is also sadly still relevant in 2023.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
A Doll’s House is playing at the Hudson theater until June 4th, 2023. Check the websites for tickets and showtimes.
Among the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust were 1.5 million young people. This cumulative experience of the lost generation speaks to us via The Diary of Anne Frank.
In 1955, the book was turned into a play. The new 7-part podcast, Playing Anne Frank, tells the behind-the-scenes story of how the play was made and its impact on everyone (both the audience and the creators) involved. Mixing historical media with interviews of surviving cast members, it brings the drama to life and reinforces the importance of the work.
I have enjoyed listening to the first 3 episodes. For obvious reasons, both the original text and its various stage/screen incarnations are still relevant, even after all of these years. What I am appreciating is the insights of the cast and that they understood the necessity of sharing Anne’s story.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
New episodes of Playing Anne Frank are released every Tuesday.
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