Tuesday, 18 Dec 2018

How "the indecent", about the art that occurs against all odds, speaks in our time

"Indecent" is Paula Vogel's eloquent account of the art unfolding against all odds. At the end of the portrait, you can expect to have been deeply moved by the moving facet of human aspiration that she celebrates, to tell the truth at a time and place that is allergic to her.

Note that this is not a party night at Arena Stage's Kreeger Theater. Director Eric Rosen assembled an absorbing incarnation of the game named by Tony de Vogel, who had been too short on Broadway last year. "Indecent" may be too austere for a healthy commercial campaign nowadays, but it is still suitable for a home such as Arena, where a ready-made audience exists for a serious story exploring the consequences of the event. 39, illumination of love in all its permutations.

This story is that of a court-ordered New York play in 1923 that described a lesbian kiss, the first time the act was envisioned on a Broadway stage. That's a Yiddish play titled "The God of Revenge" by a Polish Jewish immigrant, Sholem Asch, adds to the saga of other elements of Nativism suspicion. , of disgust for "the other". According to Vogel, the Puritan opposition to the play seduces a passionate follower – his director, Lemml, who plays with Ben Cherry's operatic vivacity – in a country supposed to welcome newcomers with new ideas. His disaffection encourages him to make a decision that leads to a deep tragedy.

The elements involved in "Indecent" – its continents, languages, and years – with the Yiddish theater troupe adopting "The God of Vengeance" as the centerpiece – exert additional pressure on the director, the team of creation and casting to preserve clarity. like the lugubrious lyricism of the play. The play in a room is an early twentieth century melodrama about the Jewish owner of a brothel whose daughter falls in love with one of the prostitutes. To add more complexity, cast members of 10 people play multiple roles, and sometimes more than one in the same scene.

Emily Shackelford and Max Wolkowitz in "Indecent". (C. Stanley Photography)

With the help of decorator Jack Magaw and screen designer Jeffrey Cady, many of the challenges are being met, even though it's sometimes hard to know who exactly who is in the casting of the room; actors are called at different times to speak in Yiddish or English or even German. (Surtitles are provided.) It is incumbent upon highly skilled artists to keep us informed, and no one accomplishes it with more felicity than Emily Shackleford. She portrays Asch's wife, as well as the many American and European actresses, dosing the young woman in "The God of Vengeance", who is seduced by a prostitute.

Shackleford goes well with Susan Lynskey, who describes, among other things, the actresses playing the prostitute. They both realize the tricky task of differentiating each of their characters with gestures and defining affections that are easy to recognize. Max Wolkowitz is a fresh and vibrant presence like Asch and others. Susan Rome and Victor Raider-Wexler bring a touch of welcome to a variety of mature characters. Three itinerant musicians (Maryn Shaw, Alexander Sovronsky and John Milosich) playing Sovronsky's poignant compositions are skilfully integrated into the proceedings.

The efforts of Lemml and the Yiddish troupe, as they seek to preserve the integrity of Asch's play and resist the efforts to distort it, give the audience an idea as concrete of the importance of words as of everything. drama heard today on American stages. As Lemml notes, Cherry, with pain and indignation, "The god of vengeance" went to Moscow, Warsaw and Berlin without incident; it is only in the United States that the authorities have closed it. This is one of the many sobering revelations that "Indecent" is so terribly right at the moment.

Indecent, by Paula Vogel. Directed by Eric Rosen. Choreography, Erika Chong Shuch; musical direction and original music, Alexander Sovronsky; sets, Jack Magaw; costumes, Linda Roethke; lighting, Josh Epstein; his, André Pluess; projections, Jeffrey Cady; voice and dialect, Zach Campion; director, Kurt Hall. With Ethan Watermeier. About 1 hour and 45 minutes. $ 66 to $ 82. Until December 30th at Arena Stadium, 1101 Sixth St. SW. 202-488-3300. arenastage.org.


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