Review Roundup: IF I FORGET at Barrington Stage Company; What Did The Critics Think?
If I Forget is a sharply funny, unflinchingly honest new play about the stories we choose to believe, the compromises we can't avoid and the hurt only our nearest and dearest can inflict.In the final months before 9/11, liberal Jewish studies professor Michael Fischer has reunited with his two sisters to celebrate their father's 75th birthday. Each deeply invested in their own version of family history, the siblings clash over everything from Michael's controversial scholarly work to the mounting pressures of caring for an ailing parent. As destructive secrets and long-held resentments bubble to the surface, the three negotiate-with biting humor and razor-sharp insight-how much of the past they're willing to sacrifice for a chance at a new beginning. If I Forget tells a powerful tale of a family and a culture at odds with itself.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Marc Savitt, BroadwayWorld: There are a few slower moving moments in Tony Award winning (Book of Dear Evan Hansen) playwright Steven Levonson's work but there is plenty of pathos as well as lots of levity and laughter in IF I FORGET. The ensemble cast is very strong and extremely well balanced. So much so that at some point I stopped seeing individual performers engaged in their craft as actors and became totally engrossed in watching a family. While this may be somewhat attributable to my own personal connection to the subject matter as a member of the diaspora and secular Jewish community in suburban America, I think the Fischer family and its many dynamics will feel familiar to most. In other words, you don't have to be Jewish to appreciate this powerful and moving play, but it won't hurt. Many audience members will likely see their own family members on the stage. IF I FORGET explores, deeply, a family and its history. It looks at the past, the present, and how the future might affect them, as well as the legacy they should / will leave.
J. Peter Bergman, The Berkshire Edge: While not a perfect play, it is so good that it should not be missed. When history and religious background lead the intellectual way to drama and all the factors work perfectly-as they do in this fine play-all we have to do is sit back and let the characters take us where they must. I haven't seen a finer example of that this season anywhere, but now I have right here in Pittsfield. You owe it to yourself to make this the drama of the season in your own collection of theatrical experience in 2019.
Barbara Waldinger, Berkshire on Stage: Director Jennifer Chambers expertly conducts this family drama both emotionally (every scene is fully realized) and physically. We watch the actors' choreographed movements as they glide from scene to scene (five per act) on this beautifully rendered set (by John McDermott), packed, like the play itself, with minute details, stretching from upstage to downstage, right to left, including every room on the first floor of the house and an upstage staircase. Palmer Hefferan's musical interludes and Scott Pinkney's lighting accompany the scene changes, matching the mood of each one. The only glimpse of a less realistic, more surreal element is the colorful upstage wall, which perhaps complements the otherworldly ending.