Posts Tagged ‘Paula Vogel’

This extraordinary play by Paula Vogel is given an even more extraordinary production by Rebecca Taichman. What begins as the story of the life of a controversial early 20th Century play ends up being much more of a history of a culture and a people.

The ‘lost’ play at its centre is God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch, written in Warsaw at the beginning of the last century. It had its first reading in 1907 and despite the negative reaction from the godfather of Yiddish literature, gets produced in St Petersburg and across Europe. The controversy comes from the fact its central characters are a lesbian couple and it’s partly set in a brothel.

Fifteen years on from that reading, the play is translated into English and gets produced in New York, though by the time it gets to Broadway it has been cut. Despite this the cast and producer are arrested during a performance and prosecuted for obscenity, though this is eventually overturned. The next time we see the play is in performance in the Lod ghetto in Poland during the Second World War.

That’s one of the clever things about Indecent. In addition to the story of the life of God of Vengeance, it seems to be the story of a people and a culture too, aided here by an onstage Klezmer band and Jewish clothing, traditions & references, which clearly meant more to those in the audience of shared heritage, but placed the play in context nonetheless.

The staging is masterly, from the first coup d’theatre, as the actors are introduced, shaking off the dust, to the final one, where we get to see the most controversial scene of God of Vengeance at last. It would be invidious to single out any one of its exceptional cast of ten actors and musicians; for once the term fine ensemble seems spot on.

Great to be back in the Menier, to see something which is well worth the wait

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