Jews And Hues
06/05/2012
Special To The Jewish Week
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Colorblind people see the world in a different way. In Jessica Fleitman’s “Deuteranomaly,” now playing at the Planet Connections Theater Festivity, a Jewish family struggles with a son’s visual deficit. Based on the scientific term for a relatively mild form of colorblindness — which affects mostly men, making it difficult for them to distinguish between red and green — “Deuteranomaly” uses the boy’s condition as a metaphor for the flaws in human relationships.

The play, which is directed by Paula D’Alessandris, is running in tandem with Sinead Daly’s “Adapting,” about a couple that genetically engineers its offspring.

Advertised as a “colorful story of Jews and hues,” Fleitman’s first play sprang from an assignment in a playwriting class; students were required to write a scene based on both a scientific term and an episode in which someone overreacts to a situation. Fleitman was struck by how much “deuteranomaly” sounded like “Deuteronomy,” and she invented a father, Allen (Vinnie Penna), who is so disturbed by the colorblindness of his son, David (David J. Goldberg), that he views his imperfection as tantamount to Moses losing the privilege of entering the Promised Land. After David’s mother, Leah (Dee Dee Friedman) and father pass away, a grown-up David rebels by dating a non-Jewish painter, Cassandra (Erika Lee), who helps him to cope with the parents who still haunt and oppress him.

Fleitman’s previous plays include “The Average-Sized Mermaid,” about a kindergarten teacher who turns into an aquatic creature, and “G Train Exodus,” about a young writer who gives up on achieving success in New York only to be reminded by a talking subway train about the importance of persistence. “Deuteranomaly” and “G Train Exodus” are the first two installments of Fleitman’s planned series of one-act plays based on all Five Books of Moses.

In an interview, Fleitman told The Jewish Week that the pivotal scene in Deuteronomy, in which Moses is denied entrance to the Promised Land because he has disobeyed God’s orders and struck a rock with his staff, is difficult to fathom. “I’ve never heard a positive interpretation of that passage,” she said. “It’s troubling, concerning, and disappointing.”

But while Moses’ penalty seems excessive, Fleitman noted, it points to a universal experience of “being kept from something that we want, worked hard for, and deserve” — a theme that she incorporates in her plays. “Deuteranomaly” asks, she said, “how people cope with the unfairness of the world, with the imperfect and unknowable world in which all of us live.”

“Deuteranomaly” runs on selected afternoons and evenings at the Bleecker Street Theatre, 45 Bleecker St. Remaining performances are Thursday, June 7 at 4 p.m.; Monday, June 11 at 6 p.m.; Sunday, June 17 at 1 p.m.; and Friday, June 22 at 4:30 p.m. For tickets, $18, call OvationTix at (866) 811-4111; http://www.ovationtix.comix.com.

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