Are there any ‘good Jews’ in the Joshua Harmon’s ‘Bad Jews,’ which pits religious against secular MOTs?
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Art provides deeper, more complex pictures of social reality than statistics ever can. The Pew Research Center survey, which has occasioned much hand-wringing, found that a majority of American Jews, despite maintaining pride in their heritage, still marry non-Jews, eschew synagogue membership and perform few traditional Jewish rituals. For those seeking a more nuanced understanding of how disaffection from Jewish religion can coexist with a continuing attachment to Judaism, look no further than Joshua Harmon’s “Bad Jews.” Directed by Daniel Aukin, it is the absorbing, funny and heartbreaking play that is now running in an encore engagement at the Roundabout Theatre’s Laura Pels Theatre.
One of the most extraordinary women of our time, Dr. Ruth Westheimer almost single-handedly brought a frank discussion of sexuality to a society largely governed by Puritanical, and then Victorian, ideas about erotic pleasure. Now the compelling life history of the diminutive, German-accented powerhouse comes to the stage in Mark St. Germain’s one-woman show, “Becoming Dr. Ruth: The Unexpected Journey,” starring Debra Jo Rupp. The play, which is currently in previews, opens next week at the Westside Theatre in Midtown.
Growing up in Hamburg, Germany, in the 1980s, Lucie Pohl heard the term “Heil, Hitler” long before she knew what it meant; she thought it was a cheery, casual greeting. Her first solo show, “Hi, Hitler” is a comedic account of her chaotic upbringing as the daughter of two famous German theater artists, and her own subsequent journey to America. The hour-long show is being produced this month at a series of women’s theater festivals, with the remaining performances on Oct. 23 and 25.
Almost 20 years after a troubled Off-Broadway run, Donald Margulies’ Shoah-themed dark comedy ‘The Model Apartment’ is back.
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It was anything but a model production. Soon after Donald Margulies’ Holocaust-themed black comedy, “The Model Apartment,” premiered Off Broadway at Primary Stages in 1995, its lead actor, Paul Stolarsky, repeatedly called in sick and then abruptly left the company. Another actor stepped in and, script in hand, tried to rescue the production. But the play’s run had been compromised, despite positive reviews, including one from Ben Brantley of The New York Times that called it a “glowing reminder of the particular pungency and intelligence” of Margulies’ work. Now, hoping for better luck, the same company is reviving the play; it opens next Tuesday evening in Midtown.
Call her the Mame Dennis, or Gypsy Rose Lee, of the Bible. Of all the courageous women in the Torah, none has more moxie than Tamar, who will stop at nothing to achieve her ambition — to have a child of her own. Now the bold and wily character is the star of her own musical, “Tamar of the River,” in which the eponymous heroine contrives to bring peace to a war-torn land. Composed by Marisa Michelson, it runs through next weekend at the Baruch Performing Arts Center.
He was an idol to millions, and his music was the soundtrack to American life. In Bernard Kops’ 1991 play, “Playing Sinatra,” an adult Jewish brother and sister in northwest London, living together in the same flat, bond over their mutual infatuation with the Italian-American singer. A revival is now running in the East Village, with Austin Pendleton featured in the cast. It comes just two years after Cary Hoffman’s Jewish tribute to Frank Sinatra, “My Sinatra.”
When Mitt Romney chose the Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate in last year’s presidential election, Ayn Rand, the atheist Jewish author whom Ryan credited with inspiring him to seek public service, was also suddenly vaulted to public attention. Rand, a political philosopher and best-selling novelist, glorified individualism and capitalism over governmental power and collective responsibility.
Despite the ironic and sardonic spirit that infuses the Yiddish language, the mame loshen also has its bleak and tragic side. In Peretz Hirshbein’s 1905 Yiddish play “Carcass,” now being presented, in English translation, by the New Worlds Theatre Project, a Jewish family is wrenched apart by poverty and despair. It runs through this weekend in the South Village.
For the Polish-Jewish filmmaker Roman Polanski, instinct rules human life. “My films,” he once said, “are the expression of momentary desires.”
Now comes Romanian playwright Saviana Stanescu’s one-man play, “Polanski Polanski,” starring Grant Neale, which explores the director’s putative state of mind during his most heinous act, his 1977 rape of Samantha Geimer in Jack Nicholson’s house on Mulholland Drive. The play opened earlier this month in Long Island City, just prior to this week’s release of Geimer’s memoir, “The Girl: A Life in the Shadow of Roman Polanski.”
He may not have been the devil incarnate, but for those whose lives were ruined by Bernie Madoff, he might as well have been. Now the white-collar criminal mastermind gets his just desserts in Lee Blessing’s new black comedy, “A User’s Guide to Hell, Featuring Bernard Madoff,” starring Edward James Hyland (“Boardwalk Empire”), which opened last weekend at Atlantic Stage in Chelsea.