When you enter the theater you see a row of ten people dressed in various clothes with suitcases or instruments. They look like they are waiting on a train or bus. Above the people is the word INDECENT in Russian and English. Below it it says “THE TRUE STORY OF A LITTLE JEWISH PLAY.” There is an golden arch over the area where the chairs are making it look like the beginning of the stage. Each person has his or her own spotlight above. The rest of the stage has a 4 inch platform that is used as a playing space. At the back is a brick wall. The wall is used to project images on; as well, the cast. In the wings are a bunch of things just waiting to be used during the play. One of the women starts playing the violin, lights go down and we are off!!!
The narrator (Richard Topol) gets up and introduces the cast of the show within a show playing before us. As each one steps forward white stuff pours out of their clothes. They all dance and play music as they are introduced. Translations of some words and announcements are projected on the back wall. LEMML (Richard Topol) also known as “Lou”is the stage manager for the play the cast is going to be presenting to various audiences along the night. We are in 1906 – WARSAW MADJE ASCH (Andrea Goss) reads from “THE GOD OF VENGANCE” a play her husband SHOLEM (Max Gordon Moore) has written. They dream of it being performed all over the world. Next we are in a meeting room THE SALON AT THE PERETZ HOME and a group of men are reading and discussing the play. Some hate it as a poor representation of Jewish people. One asks “Why are so many Yiddish plays being set in Brothels?” another answers: “The Research.” They read the play but a bell rings and they freeze and then move to another part of the play so we never hear all of the play just tidbits. One man reads a sex scene of a whore having sex with another woman in the rain. He refuses to read all of it, so another man takes it over. Some love it and others are appalled. Some say it is anti-Semitic other think it is a great Yiddish play for the Yiddish renaissance. They play the play in a million places and each one is broadcasted on the wall behind them. 1907 – Berlin, The Deutsches Theater, 1911 – St. Petersberg, 1914 Constantinople, 1918 Bratislava. Then in 1920 they arrive at ELLIS ISLAND and enter the USA to further produce the play. Some people on line do not get through but the cast members makes it through because the playwright and producers were able to pull a few strings. 1921 NYC Bowery Theater. In 1922 they decide to translate the play into English for the American audiences. In 1923 the play debuts at the Apollo Theater on Broadway and there is a heavy police presence because so many people hate what the play stands for with the brazen lesbian scene. After the play is over the full company and producers are arrested for Obscenity.
The cast : RICHARD TOPOL, KATRINA LENK, MAX GORDON MOORE, TOM NELIS, STEVEN RATTAZZI and ANDREA GOSS are all wonderful . They give virtuous performances in this tour de force comedic drama. They play a million different characters and you never lose place and sense of whom is whom. The director REBECCA TAICHMAN has created something visually stunning. A true delight. It is not an easy thing to move so many actors around a small stage and make it look so natural and deliberate at the same time. The playwright PAULA VOGEL has guts to mix Polish Jews who are already slighted and looked down on with Lesbianism and later the Holocaust. The play is so advent garde it makes you smile and say YES!!!, then you think again and say OH, MY!” she has obvious skill to craft a play within a play piece where everything works and plays like a well oiled machine. No one is left out no chance at pressing the issue or theme of the play are lost. This may have taken place in 1906 – WARSAW but it is ripped from the headlines of today as well; especially in aTrump and Mike Pence America!!!!. INDECENT PROVES PROVOCATIVE AND PROFOUND IN THE LESSON OF TOLERANCE AND ACCEPTANCE IT MAKE US WRESTLE WITH. It is a living breathing piece that drags you along for the ride, one you will not regret. You would do yourself a great pleasure to travel down to the Cort Theater 138 West 48th Street, Manhattan and catch this jewel for yourself.