Indecent on Broadway
Haunting Tony nominated Best Play at the Cort Theatre is a stunning tale directed by Rebecca Taichman.
By: Patrick Christiano
In their Tony nominated play, Indecent now playing at Broadway’s Cort Theatre, Rebecca Taichman and Pulitzer prize winning playwright Paula Vogel have fashioned an exquisite evening of theater that movingly illustrates the history of a little known 1906 Yiddish play, God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch. The staging, a fusion of elements, directed by Taichman is an evocative kaleidoscope of images that begins with the play’s inception. The story then follows the journey of God of Vengeance, a play about a lesbian romance between a prostitute and the virgin Jewish daughter of the brothel’s owner, on a successful tour of Europe. Eventually coming to Broadway in 1923 a controversial kiss staged in the play results in an obscenity trial and the cast being jailed for indecent behavior.
Indecent, which has not only been nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play and Best Direction, but has also been recognized with nominations for Best Play by the Drama Desk, the Outer Critics Circle, and the Drama League, began at the Vineyard Theater last year. The background story of the play’s conception is almost as fascinating at the play itself. Twenty years ago, the director Rebecca Taichman became intrigued by God of Vengeance when she discovered the Yiddish play as a student at Yale. Upon later learning of the subsequent obscenity trial she wrote her junior thesis surrounding the events based on papers she uncovered in her school’s library. Ultimately, she connected with Paula Vogel, a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright for How I Learned to Drive, and now the two are reminding us of the power of art by making an acclaimed Broadway debut as co-creators of Indecent.
In the opening scene seven actors, Richard Topol, Katrina Lenk, Mimi Lieber, Max Gordon Moore, Tom Nelis, Steven Rattazzi, and Adina Verson, are symbolically presented as spirits releasing ashes from the sleeves of their costumes. The actors portray multiple roles moving beautifully from one character to the next with stylized movements by David Dorfman, and the symbolism of the ash will be profoundly repeated for a powerful effect.
The action unfolds on a bare stage like a dance with three musicians flowing in and out of the staging. The onstage musicians are the co-creators of the notable klezmer songs and music, Aaron Halva (accordion, baritone ukulele, and percussion) and Lisa Gutkin (violin, and mandolin) with Matt Darriau on clarinet.
Indecent now on Broadway is performance art of the highest caliber and a rare opportunity for any serious theater lover.
138 West 48th Street
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Running Time 1 Hour and 45 Minutes; no intermission