The play within this play is God of Vengeance, a Yiddish play written in 1907 by Polish playwright and novelist Sholem Asch, and translated into many languages as it played in theaters across Europe. This tale of a Jewish brothel owner and his daughter who fell in love with one of the prostitutes landed on Broadway in 1923, where the cast and producer were convicted of indecency (hence the title) because the play includes a love story between two women. Lauded all over Europe, but here in the US of A, land of the free and home of the brave, it was censored. If you've read any interviews with Paula Vogel in the last year, you'll see the parallels between Broadway then and now, between the state of the world then and now.
|Miriam Schwartz and Gisela Chípe as the young lovers
(photo by Dan Norman)
|the amazing stage (photo by Dan Norman)
With direction by Wendy C. Goldberg and choreography by Yehuda Hyman (oh yes, there's dancing too!), the ensemble (also including Gisela Chípe, Hugh Kennedy, Miriam Schwartz, Robert Dorfman, Sally Wingert, Steven Epp) beautifully brings these stories to life, playing multiple characters, as well as characters playing characters in the play-within-a-play. The Guthrie's thrust stage has been transformed into an abandoned theater complete with balcony, theater seats, and a huge round skylight overhead from which light and water rain down (scenic designer Arnulfo Maldonado modeled it on an actual abandoned theater in NY, as noted in the excellent and informative program notes).
Indecent is a gorgeous play, gorgeously produced by the Guthrie in its first post-Broadway incarnation. Historically important ideas and themes that still have relevance today, with a strong beating heart, make this one to remember (continuing through March 24).
|L'Chaim! No it's not that musical, but is similar in that it tells an
important Jewish story using music-theater, with a similar feeling of
clinging to hope in hard times (photo by Dan Norman)