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Indecent is play at the Cort Theatre located at 138 West 48th Street. It runs one hour forty minutes with no intermission. It is opened ended.
Paula Vogel is the playwright. She won a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1998 for How I Learned to Drive.
There are ten people sitting on chairs at the back of the stage. The three to the left are musicians.
On the wall above the it says in Yiddish and English Indecent, underneath The True Story of a Little Jewish Play. During the play things that are said are put up on the wall in Yiddish and English.
The story revolves Sholem Asch’s 1906 Yiddish Classic “The God of Vengeance”.
When the cast come forward sand comes out of their sleeves. From dust we come, from dust we go.
Brothel owner Yanky (Tom Nelis) wants to be consider respectable by making sure his daughter Rivkele (Adina Verson) is a virgin, thus she is marriageable and by commissioning a Torah Scroll. The play is set in a brothel and includes prostitutes, a lesbian scene and the hurling of a Torah.
It was performed all over Europe without incidents about the content.
The actors and playwright come to New York in 1922. The God of Vengeance is first performed in the Bowery Theatre then moves to the The Providence Theatre in the village. In 1923 the play went to Broadway at the Apollo Theatre on 42nd Street. The entire cast and others involve with the show were arrested and convicted of obscenity. Sholem refuses the stage managers (Richard Topol) appeal to come to court to talk on their behalf. He is living in Staten Island. He tells him he don’t write plays any more just novels. Sholem admits he speaks very little English or knows how to write in English. He does write a letter but it is no help.
The cast of actors go back to Europe where the play is accepted as it is. Even when Hitler is in power they perform in someone’s attic, one act a night. The building is raided, two of the female actors escape the others were not so lucky.
In 1952 Sholem Asch is living Connecticut. A young man has translated the story into English and wants to do a production of it. Sholem says no, it’s been performed too much. He said besides I am leaving for London. I have received a letter about my involvement with the communist party. Sholem says it was 1905 every one joined it. The young man tell him to fight it and Sholem tells him no.
This is a touching, well done story. It made me want to find out more about the author of the play being performed. This is a play that makes you think about what you saw. If that’s the type of play you like to see this is the play for you.
The actors do a stunning job and so do the three musicians (two violins and clarinet).
Sholem Asch was born in Poland in 1880 and died in London in 1957.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for recent photos. Click on a photo, then click back to album and finally click on back to gallery, for this and other shows.