Posted in family drama, Playwrights Horizons, politics, Roundabout Theatre Company

Identity Politics

Identity is both personal and political.

For the Fischer family in Steven Levenson’s new play, If I Forget, closing at the Laura Pels on April 30th,  the realities of their identity are fraught.

Of the siblings, Michael (Jeremy Shamos), sees the Jewish Studies he teaches at an university from the perspective of liberal politics gone awry. He is not observant, and his book on Jewish ties to Israel is causing a rift with his sisters, Sharon (Maria Dizzia) and Holly (Kate Walsh) and their father, Lou (Larry Bryggman). Michael also feels that the connection to Israel that his non-Jewish wife, Ellen Manning (Tasha Lawrence) encourage in their daughter is not in keeping with his beliefs.

To suggest that this is a controversial position for a play on a Jewish subject to voice is a gross understatement. The subtlety of Michael’s arguments is lost on his family, but not on the audience.

Rounding out the cast of characters in this excellent production under Daniel Sullivan’s direction are Holly’s husband, Howard Kilberg (Gary Wilmes) and her son Joey (Seth Michael Steinberg).

If I Forget is thoughtful and thought-provoking, although it loses some credibility with a mystifying and seemingly mystical ending.

For tickets and information, please visit the Roundabout production’s website.


“Staying out of the dark ages,” as Michael would have it, may be the cri du coeur for secularists of all stripes.

The ProfaneMarch 17, 2017 – April 30, 2017 Peter Jay Sharp Theater Written by Zayd Dohrn Directed by Kip Fagan World Premiere 2016 Horton Foote Prize winner
Francis Benhamou and Tala Ashe in The Profane by Zayd Dohrn at Playwrights Horizons. Photo by Joan Marcus.

In The Profane, playing at Playwrights Horizons through May 7th, identity is as much a tetter-totter for the Arab-American Raif (Ali Reza Farahnakian) who has distanced himself from his heritage, and his daughter Emina (Tala Ashe) who is running to connect with it, as it is for the Fischers.

Zayd Dohrn’s intelligent play is inspiring and provocative. (For my more in depth analyses, click here, or here, or here.

For moe information and tickets, please visit PHnyc’s website.

Posted in comedy, drama, theater

Join the swap meet

The Qualms at Playwrights Horizons/Mainstage Theater. Pictured,  Chinasa Ogbuagu, John Procaccino, Sarah Goldberg, Jeremy Shamos and Donna Lynne Champlin. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The Qualms at Playwrights Horizons/Main stage Theater. Pictured,
Chinasa Ogbuagu, John Procaccino, Sarah Goldberg, Jeremy Shamos and Donna Lynne Champlin. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Swinging is by definition a casual-about-sex lifestyle.

The Qualms, in its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons through July 12th, (so hurry), presents the tantalizing proposition that switching partners is painless and uncomplicated. That this promise of free love appeals to a couple just starting their marriage suggests that this party will inevitably go awry. (The “preview” is here: http://wp.me/p5jq0w-uh.)

Pulitzer-prize winning playwright, Bruce Norris (for Clybourne Park), is a master of the suburban story. In The Qualms, Chris’ (Jeremy Shamos) reluctant participation in Gary (John Procaccino) and Teri’s (Kate Arrington) sexcapades ultimately puts a damper on the proceedings. Chris and Kristy (Sarah Goldberg) are newly weds, who met their hosts on a vacation last winter, and came by to explore this novel option in their relationship.

The Qualms at Playwrights Horizons. Pictured are: Andy Lucien, Kate Arrington. and   John Procaccino
The Qualms at Playwrights Horizons. Pictured are:
Andy Lucien, Kate Arrington. and
John Procaccino

The regulars at these soirees, Deb (Donna Lynne Champlin), her beau Ken (Andy Lucien), Regine (Chinasa Oginbuagu) are all, with the exception of the macho “alpha male” Roger (Noah Emmerich), welcoming.

Shamos’ Chris practically twitches with the weight of his discomfort and disapproval. Under Pam MacKinnon’s direction, the ensemble is seductively perfect. Kate Arrington is particularly affecting as the surprising Teri.

There are many types of couples. The Qualms focuses on two: those who swap with impunity and those who just can’t adapt to carefree swinging.

While Kristy appears ready to accept the “polyamourous” lifestyle, Chris remains put-off. He may be right. After all, sex with strangers is unlikely to improve matters in a floundering relationship.

Head on over and join the party. Unlike Chris, you won’t be disappointed.

For tickets and information, please visit http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/plays/qualms/ 

More opinions about this show also here.

Posted in comedy, drama, theater

Change Partners And….

Qualms, The Playwrights Horizons/Mainstage Theater;  Chinasa Ogbuagu and Jeremy Shamos. Photo by Joan Marcus Production Credits: Pam MacKinnon (director) Todd Rosenthal (scenic design) Jessica Pabst (costume design) Russell H. Champa (lighting design) Rich Sims (sound design) Other Credits: Written by: Bruce Norris
The Qualms, at Playwrights Horizons/Mainstage Theater;
Chinasa Ogbuagu
and Jeremy Shamos. Photo by Joan Marcus
Pam MacKinnon (director)
Written by: Bruce Norris

Swingers are by definition casual about sex.

The Qualms, in its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons through July 12th, presents the tantalizing proposition that swapping is fun and easy. The temptation of free love to a couple just starting their marriage suggests that this party will inevitably go awry.

Relationships are notoriously difficult. Sex with strangers can demarcate the fault lines in even an established union.

There are many phyla in coupledom. The Qualms focuses on two: those who swap and those who don’t. For those who do, swinging is integral to their relationships. For those who don’t, it’s cheating even when both partners agree to try it. Nothing slows a party down like a man with qualms about cheating on his wife.

Review shortly… In the meantime, for tickets and information, please visit http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/shows/plays/qualms/