WorkShop Theater Company
Next Year in Jerusalem
by Dana Leslie Goldstein
Directed by Robert Bruce McIntosh
WorkShop Theater Company, NYC
October 8 -31, 2009
Scenic and Lighting Design DUANE PAGANO
Costume Design ANNE E. GROSZ
Sound Design DAVID SCHULDER
Production Stage Manager MICHAEL PALMER
Press Representative SCOTTI RHODES
Faustine Mendel – Jodie Bentley
Abraham Mendel – Burt Edwards
Young Abraham Mendel/Ari – Jake Robards
Anna Mendel – Elyse Mirto
Anna Netter – Sarah Romanello
Rachel Mendel Netter – Dee Dee Friedman
Lee Netter – Timothy Scott Harris
Dana Leslie Goldstein’s Next Year in Jerusalem opens WorkShop Theater Company's 2009/2010 season on a high note. A touching, sometimes funny new dramatic work set in modern-era New York, with flashbacks to Poland 1939, Israel 1948 and Brooklyn 1960, the play has some poignant moments.
The play centers on the Mendel family. Patriarch Abraham Mendel, faced with his own mortality, reflects on the choices of his youth. As Abraham, actor Burt Edwards is a force to be reckoned with. Seeming genuinely conflicted in his interactions with his two very different children, Abraham feels real. The play is structured with the typical good child/bad child family dynamic to add some tension to the mix. The stalwart older daughter, Rachel, seethes just below the surface, as the freer, wilder Faustine just cannot seem to get under control, drinking and talking too much, and stopping just short of a strip-tease at Seder. The formula works here, thanks to some good acting, including Jake Robards in a dual role as a young, conflicted Abraham, and as Ari, a potential suitor for Faustine.
The play deviates from the central action with plot complications involving the disintegrating marriage of Rachel and husband Lee, who also work together in Abraham’s business. If extraneous, one of the scenes between Dee Dee Friedman’s Rachel and Timothy Scott Harris’ Lee is also appropriately sad and played with authenticity. Diverting a bit from the central arc of the play, but well executed.
Next Year in Jerusalem is a fine addition to this season on stage. It offers a relatable and moving portrait of a family. Robert Bruce McIntosh’s direction steady direction complements Ms. Goldsteins’s play, allowing for the various time periods to co-exist without confusion or chaos on the stage, and for the characters to take on a life beyond the page, engaging the audience from the moment the action begins.
- Kessa De Santis -