Bonnie Berger, our wonderful house manager for many years at Theater J, forwarded this beautiful take on the show from a new friend of our theater.
“My Italian immigrant grandmother, whose girth, wit, and wisdom grew as I did, always advised me in heavily accented lilt to “hava yoo own a mind”… translation: have your own mind, don’t follow the pack, think for yourself, make decisions and choices outside the collective consciousness. Her mantra was meant to protect me from the ‘bad influence’ of the city thugs that lie just outside of our Bronx borough. The delight of living so close to Manhattan lie in my mostly weekly visits and trips to the theater there… through my many Broadway and off Broadway experiences, I became fairly discerning in what worked onstage and what didn’t.
I was seated in the opening night audience of David in Shadow and Light. I found the experience moving, fun, passionate and completely entertaining. The energy of the ‘house’ was riveted as librettist Yehuda’s storytelling unfolded, cracking open the ancient story of David. As it is with most midrash, the original story gets stretched against the confines of the concretized version of memory and tradition. As a graduate student at Yale, studying theology, I became versed in the exegetical framework of retelling and interpretation. Later as a Teaching Fellow there, we fleshed out the notions of liberation theology against postmodern thinking.
Certainly, what we see depends on where we stand in the room (and we have all heard versions of that concept before) but I plain ol’ wondered if the reviewers were actually in the same theater that I was that opening night. What I witnessed on stage was an exhilarating interpretation of Scripture that was at once expansive and congruently intimate. A postmodern invitation to examine the illusion of greatness as we wrestle with human and divine will. It’s too bad that the critics viewed this production from their evaluative mind…if they had allowed their heart to be present, they may have delighted in a personal metanoia — allowing the sum of its quirky parts to be enjoyed as a satisfying whole.
So, please, go and see this terrific piece before it concludes its run…follow your own mind, and heart, and enjoy its wonderful actors, music, staging and fresh interpretation!
– Romie Palladino