By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Nov 8, 2009 5:00
WASHINGTON – Following the controversy last year over a staged reading of the play Seven Jewish Children‚ Theater J artistic director Ari Roth thought the community needed a play that would allow for some healing.
To that end, he broke with the Theater J tradition of performing “a good depressing autumnal play,” and chose to put on Neil Simon’s prize-winning Lost in Yonkers for an extended run.
Not that the production is pure comedy , in fact, many of the laughs it provides are intensified by serving to break up moments of deep tension , but it does represent a lighter inflection of the crushing family drama genre. And perhaps most importantly, it offers a plotline that’s ultimately redemptive.
“I felt this was what we needed as a community, as Jews… with us always at each other’s throats,” explained Roth, whose Theater J is located in the Jewish Community Center in downtown Washington.
He added that the greater societal context was also significant in his choice, with the current economic crisis and what he called a “rift” in the Jewish community following the elections of US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu positioning his theater “on the seam” of those various forces.
It was our job in this slot to bring us together,” he said. “We needed a family play with hardened characters, hardened hearts, [from which] we needed to create some reconciliation.”
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(and it’s not a bad piece, and I’m more or less quoted accurately; it’s just a bit bald… but that’s okay. I’m glad this piece was written.)