A Rabbi’s Moral Choices

‘A Splintered Soul’ looks at the often-paradoxical nature of ethical decision-making.

Special To The Jewish Week

Trauma leaves nothing whole. In Alan Lester Brooks’ new play, “A Splintered Soul,” a maverick rabbi in postwar San Francisco risks his life and career to resettle Jewish refugees from the Holocaust. Yet aiding others plunges the rabbi into a world of agonizing moral choices, in which things are not always what they seem. “A Splintered Soul” opens Off Broadway Oct. 21 at Theater Three in Midtown with a cast that features Ella Dershowitz, daughter of celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, in her New York theatrical debut.

Ella Dershowitz, the daughter of Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, makes her N.Y. theatrical debut in Alan Lester Brooks.

When Your Family Wants A Rewrite

The darkly comic playwright David Bar Katz turns the dysfunctional clan drama on its head in ‘The Atmosphere of Memory.’

Staff Writer

If the generally liberal New York theater crowd has gotten a little tired of David Mamet, who with his acerbic wit and pugilistic mien now espouses mostly conservative views, it need not worry. There is another Jewish playwright with an equally dark and comic wit who is just breaking through. He is David Bar Katz, author of “The Atmosphere of Memory,” a play about a highly dysfunctional family, and he is one of the most watched mid-career playwrights in New York City.

“It’s really about children finding their place within a family,” Bar Katz says of his new play.

Death Be Not … Cruel

Special To The Jewish Week

Death should not be proud, as the poet John Donne warned, but it certainly can be shameless. In Nicky Silver’s new play, “The Lyons,” the patriarch of a Jewish family, about to succumb to terminal cancer, suddenly vents the hatred that he feels for his wife and children, prompting them to uncork their own vitriol at him and at each other.

Linda Lavin in Nicky Silver’s “The Lyons,”

The ‘Key’ To ‘Kaddish’

Mourning and madness in stage version of Ginsberg’s elegy for his mother

Special To The Jewish Week

He was not a practicing Jew, but Allen Ginsberg’s poetry was deeply religious in its mystical energies, shimmering visions and profound longings for transcendence. Nowhere is this more apparent than in “Kaddish,” Ginsberg’s incantatory, surrealistic elegy for his mother, written in 1959. Now comes “Kaddish (or The Key in the Window)” as a one-man play starring Donnie Mather in a new production in the East Village.

Donnie Mather, above, in his one-man show “Kaddish,” an homage to Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, right.

Love And Marriage, Song And Dance

From speed dating to weddings, three New York Musical Theater Festival productions give a 21st-century Jewish spin on romance.

Special To The Jewish Week

From the rival lovers in “Oklahoma” to the interracial relationships in “South Pacific,” romance has always been a major theme of the Broadway musical. Now come three new productions in the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) that give a 21st-century Jewish spin to themes of love and sex.

The cast of “My History of Marriage.”

History And Jewish Identity, Times Two

Two one-woman shows measure the continuing impact of Anne Frank’s story and of apartheid.

Special To The Jewish Week

History’s shadows never stop lengthening. Two one-woman shows playing next week in New York explore how historical processes shape modern Jewish identity. Carol Lempert’s “After Anne Frank,” investigates the effect of the Dutch teenager’s story on the performer’s own life, while Gabrielle Maisels’ “Bongani” examines a relationship between a white Jewish girl and the black son of her family housekeeper in post-apartheid South Africa.

Gabrielle Maisels as one of 11 characters in her play “Bongani,” about the lingering effects of apartheid.

Russian Dolls’ Meets ‘A Doll’s House’

Special To The Jewish Week

Talk about coitus interruptus. In Anna Fishbeyn’s new comedy, “Sex in Mommyville,” a couple struggles to find time in the bedroom while faced with unrelenting demands from whiny children and nosy parents. The show, which is a lusty, unbridled Russian Jewish updating of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” will be performed this weekend at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre in Midtown.

A scene from Anna Fishbeyn’s “Sex in Mommyville.”

When Harry Met Eddie

Did the relationship between Harry Truman and Eddie Jacobson really lead to Israel’s creation?

Special To The Jewish Week

Were it not for Eddie Jacobson, a Jewish haberdasher from Kansas City, the State of Israel might never have come to be. So contends Mark Weston in his play, “Harry & Eddie: The Birth of Israel,” which traces Harry Truman’s decision to recognize the fledgling Jewish state to his long-time friendship with Jacobson. Directed by Bob Spiotto, the play has its premiere Off Broadway next week at St. Luke’s Theater in Midtown. Rick Grossman, Dan Hicks and Lydia Gladstone are all in the cast.

Dan Hicks as Harry Truman, Rick Grossman as Eddie Jacobson and Lydia Gladstone as Bluma Jacobson in scene from “Harry and Eddie.

The Ghost At The Seder Table

A bizarre Passover, courtesy of Charles Busch.

Special To The Jewish Week

From the Plagues visited on the Egyptians to the parting of the Red Sea, Passover is permeated with the supernatural. Little wonder, then, that Charles Busch’s new comedy, “Olive and the Bitter Herbs,” deals with a Passover seder hosted by a misanthropic elderly actress, Olive Fisher (Marcia Jean Kurtz) that is overshadowed by a mysterious ghost.

Dan Butler as Trey, Marcia Jean Kurtz as Olive, Richard Masur as Sylvan, and David Garrison as Robert in "Olive and the Bitter H

Midlife Crisis, Jewish Style

In ‘Herman Kline,’ a doctor grapples with his mortality.

Special To The Jewish Week

In Josh Koenigsberg’s “Herman Kline’s Midlife Crisis,” a successful Jewish trauma doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital (Adam LeFevre) risks his life and career when he brings home a bag of crack cocaine that he has found in a dead patient’s rectum.

Besides Kline, the other characters are the doctor’s wife, Liz (Kathryn Kates); a young premed student and family friend, Lauren (Mary Quick) and Lauren’s boyfriend, Ernie (Bobby Moreno), who is a drug dealer.

Kathryn Kates (as Liz Kline) and Adam LeFevre (as Herman Kline) in "Herman Kline's Midlife Crisis." Robert J. Saferstein
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