Awake and Sing!
March 2nd and 3rd at 8 p.m.
Matinee March 3rd at 2 p.m.
Zion Episcopal Church | Douglaston
Reviewed by Arlene
Odets’ angry, funny play Awake and Sing!
now presented by the Douglaston Community Theatre,
the viewer gets the feeling that the 99 percent
have been around for quite a long time. The play
is set in the 1932 and 1933, during the worst
of the Depression, and revolves around the tribulations
of the Berger family of the Bronx.
The Bergers, like
so many others, are broke and put upon by circumstances,
by jobs that no longer exist or jobs that exist
but are meaningless and barely help pay the bills.
That they don’t seem as impoverished as
they are is probably the work of the family matriarch,
the testy and bitterly funny Bessie Berger, played
with relish by Marilyn Welsher. Her home is tidy.
There’s good china in the china closet,
her dining table is draped with linen, the lighting
is comfortable. This is good and perceptive work
by director/set designer Teresa Zugger and lighting
designer John Palmieri. Unfortunately, Bessie’s
overwhelming personality has rendered her husband
Myron (Al Carbuto) a bit of a cipher in his own
Bessie and her
brother Morty (Marty Edelstein) are children of
Jacob, a Marxist who considers himself a failure
and tries to encourage his increasingly embittered
grandson Ralph to find success, whatever success
means. Success, at least in the first couple of
acts, seems impossibly out of reach for Ralph’s
older, combative sister Hennie, who’s married
a naive immigrant and ends up saddled with a baby.
Orbiting around this unhappy bunch is Moe Axelrod,
a wounded war veteran who’s been in love
with Hennie the way other men are in love with
other kinds of dangerous pursuits, and Schlosser,
the janitor. Interestingly, Schlosser, usually
a male in other versions, is played with quiet
compassion by Barbara Mavro.
Odets can be a
bit talky, and to be honest not much happens in
Awake and Sing! until the very end. Yet
Zugger and her excellent cast keeps the audience
engaged. Michael Wolf is heartwrenching as Jacob,
who, Willy Loman-like, makes the decision that
his family would be better off without him. Lisa
Lawrence’s Hennie is almost as terrifying
as Welsher’s Bessie; her husband, played
with appropriate bewilderment by Dean Schildkraut,
is no match for her. Cody Parham is also good
as the frustrated, striving Ralph, while Eric
Leeb’s Moe refuses to give up on his dreams,
or Hennie, wooden leg or not. Carbuto almost disappears
into the wallpaper as Myron, rightly so, while
Edelstein gives Morty the smugness that comes
from making it even when everyone else is sinking.
It is both tragic
and heartening that Awake and Sing! is
so relevant even today. It will be at the Zion
Episcopal Church Parish Hall in Douglaston till
Saturday, March 3.
Ticket prices are
$15 for adults and $13 for senior citizens and
students with ID.
to make reservations. Tickets will also be available
at the door
Church |243-01 Northern Blvd.| Douglaston
Helen Joyce, Raphael Sacks,
Photo Credit: Ben Sozanski
Erosion: A Fable
February 17 – 26, 2011
La MaMa (The Club)
Reviewed by Lisa Lewis
The Loom Ensemble’s
richly textured dance theatre piece Erosion,
is an apt fable for our economically and ethically
In a remarkably
coherent patchwork of music, theatre and dance,
Erosion tells the story of a homeless woman
with a surprising gift and the businessman who
seeks to exploit it – but the judgment of
these characters is wisely left to the audience.
It’s rare that a work so topically driven
avoids the soapbox, but Erosion manages a pointed
argument without preaching.
expressive soundscape blends choral chants with
world music beats, creating a nearly meditative
experience. That music, along with the repetitive,
ritualistic motions of the dancers, gives the
audience intellectual space to contemplate rather
than simply swallow the play’s political
messages and the movements aptly mirror the endless
mechanical drive of the work-a-day world.
Neva Cockrell offers up some clever interpretations
of modern life, including office workers perched
on chairs made of bent bodies, restless sleepers
caught mid-nightmare, and city scenes that capture
the isolation of urbanites on chaotic streets
at rush hour. The drone buzz of the city, the
arbitrary empathy of its denizens, the momentary
breakthroughs of feeling, all represented here
with haunting accuracy by the spare but evocative
music and movement.
is Zoe Anastassiou, as a homeless and pregnant
beggar. Anyone who has chosen to favor a street
performer with their spare change will recognize
the self-righteous argument of the musician as
he takes the dollars that might have otherwise
gone to the homeless, expectant mother. Here,
the company makes an incisive point about the
free market competition at play, even in hustling
dimes on the streets.
Sacks brings his warm baritone and genial presence
to the harmonies and leads this talented young
troupe as they explore the conflict between making
a living and living a moral life.
Hamilton, Sasha Bogdanowitsch, Helen Joyce, Zoe
Anastassiou, Andrew Broaddus, Neva Cockrell, Mike
O'Bauer, and Raphael Sacks. Set Design by Morgen
Fleisig. Lighting Design by Kayla Goble. Costumes
by Hannah Richey. Music by Sasha Bogdanowitsch.
Choreography by Neva Cockrell. Assistant Director
Katherine Pardue. Directed by Tomi Tsunoda at
the La Mama Club thru February 26th.
For tickets and information visit http://www.LoomEnsemble.com.
(The Club) | 74A East 4 St.