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