Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: World Premiere of Seth Rozin's SETTLEMENTS Opens at InterAct Theatre Company

Performances will run through April 24 at the Proscenium Theatre at the Drake.

BWW Review: World Premiere of Seth Rozin's SETTLEMENTS Opens at InterAct Theatre Company

There is no easy or simple way to discuss the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Seth Rozin's world premiere play, Settlements, which opened last night at InterAct Theatre Company, centers on exactly that-not the conflict itself, but the discussion around it. Settlements is nuanced, polished, thoughtfully written, and constructed with care. It is also inclusive, current, and thought-provoking, and will surely spark real-life conversations as passionate and multi-layered as the conversations Rozin's characters engage in throughout the play.

Settlements opens with a heated argument between Judith [Cindy Gold], the Executive Director of a Jewish Community Center, and Noah [Steven Rishard], the Artistic Director of the Center's resident theatre. Noah, a strong-willed creative who isn't afraid to make waves and push buttons, is receiving what he considers to be a demotion- he will no longer have final say on the plays that the theatre will produce. Going forward he will have to run all plans by Judith and the Center's Board for their ultimate approval, something Noah feels is unfair, and Judith feels is necessary. The play smoothly unwinds to show the series of events that led up to this moment.

We are brought back months earlier to the start of the action. The Center has justBWW Review: World Premiere of Seth Rozin's SETTLEMENTS Opens at InterAct Theatre Company commissioned an exciting new playwright to create a work about the Israeli Palestinian conflict for the Center's theatre. The playwright, Jordanian-Jewish, nonbinary, millennial Yasmine (Becca Khalil), is inspired by their recent trip to the West Bank and centers their play around the struggles and tragedy of a Palestinian family they met while there. When Judith, as well as the Center's Board President, Marion [Emily Zacharias], and one of the Center's biggest donors, Cesar [Mitch Greenberg] learn that Yasmine's play is focused on a Palestinian family, is almost entirely sympathetic to the Palestinian side of the conflict, and features only one, much-less fleshed out, Israeli-Jewish character, matters begin to get complicated. Questions arise about whether the Center should produce Yasmine's play at all, and if Yasmine- as they are being commissioned by the Jewish Community Center-should show a more balanced picture of the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

What unfolds is an exploration of differing viewpoints, a responsibility to one's culture and identity, freedom of expression in art, and how background, age, circumstance, and a changing society effect not only how these characters see and discuss the Israeli Palestinian conflict, but how we all see and discuss the world around us.

BWW Review: World Premiere of Seth Rozin's SETTLEMENTS Opens at InterAct Theatre Company The play is beautifully and smartly written and constructed. The characters and their viewpoints are fully fleshed out, and the dialogue feels truthful and emotional without being preachy or biased. As the characters navigate a complicated situation, all angles and possibilities are explored and considered. This cast of actors rises to the occasion to meet the quality of the writing as much as the quality of the writing is lifted by their fully developed, present performances.

The structure of the play relies often on flashbacks to move the narrative forward, and it is done so clearly through clever and subtle lighting and staging [lighting design by Joshua Benghiat, and direction by David Winitsky]. The scenic design by Marie Laster is simplistic and effective, and the costume design by Natalia de la Torre subtly and wonderfully informs how the characters present to the audience.

The characters in Settlements come up with a solution to their conflict in a way that makes it feel like the only natural conclusion. In the end, it benefits some, but not all, is both satisfying and unsatisfying, fair and unfair. It makes a point about compromise and give and take without hitting you over the head with the larger implication of that or forcing you to pick a side. At the end of the day, we all have our strong opinions. If Settlements does not open your mind to another way of thinking, it will at the very least, like its characters, inspire you to engage in discussion.

For more information visit:

Join Team BroadwayWorld

Are you an avid theatre goer in Philadelphia? We're looking for people like you to share your thoughts and insights with our readers. Team BroadwayWorld members get access to shows to review, conduct interviews with artists, and the opportunity to meet and network with fellow theatre lovers and arts workers.

Interested? Learn more here.

Related Articles View More Philadelphia Stories

From This Author - Chloe Rabinowitz