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Review: INDECENT at SF Playhouse

Review: INDECENT at SF Playhouse

Paula Vogel's Tony award-winning Indecent

Co-Founders Bill English and Susi Damilano were obviously emotional on the eve of their 20th Anniversary Season opener, mentioning that Paula Vogel's Tony award-winning Indecent mirrors their intention of creating theatre that challenges audiences, exposes our humanity and opens minds. In what may be Susi's finest directorial work, Indecent soars with poignant imagery, gut-wrenching emotion, and thrilling performances. As a play about the creation of a play, it's an intimate portrayal of artistic expression, freedom, repression, and courage that ultimately uplifts the spirit.

Review: INDECENT at SF Playhouse

With a strong ensemble cast of seven (Rivka Borek Rachel Botchan, Billy Cohen, Dean Linnard, Victor Talmadge, Malka Wallick, and Ted Zoldan) supported by three musicians (Dmitri Gaskin, Audrey Jackson, and Matthew Stein), Indecent is based on the true story of the scandalous 1923 debut of Sholem Asch's The God of Vengeance, a controversial work of Yiddish theatre.

The cast is tasked with seamlessly morphing into dozens of characters as we follow writer Asch, his loyal Stage Manager Lemml, and a dedicated cast as they travel Europe to enthusiastic audiences. When the play transfers to America, the troubles begin. Opening on Broadway, the cast is arrested on obscenity charges over a lesbian love scene. A Jewish Rabbi leads the opposition to the play over moral issues and a misrepresentation of Jewish people.

Review: INDECENT at SF Playhouse

Damilano's staging is impeccable with scene after scene of breathtaking beauty aided by the lively ethnic choreography of longtime SF Playhouse collaborator Nicole Helfer and the klezmer music by Dmitri Gaskin. As the play progresses, we see more and more snippets of The God of Vengeance, allowing the audience to draw our own conclusions about the controversy. The provocative lesbian love scene performed numerous times from different angles, scenes of the troupe staging the play in attics and basements in the Lodz Ghetto in 1943, and the actors waiting in line for the gas chamber are staged so magnificently that it is evident The God Vengeance is a universal tome to humanity that transcends religion.

Review: INDECENT at SF Playhouse

The acting is top-notch throughout, the open stage structure breaking the fourth wall allowing us to participate in the staging of the staging, and the supertitled explanations of languages spoken at the moment are all brilliant touches that engulf the audience in an all-encompassing theatrical experience that won't soon be forgotten.

Indecent runs through November 5th, 2022. Tickets available at 415-677-9596, or online at https://cloud.broadwayworld.com/rec/ticketclick.cfm?fromlink=2200061®id=18&articlelink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sfplayhouse.org%2Fsfph%2F?utm_source=BWW2022&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=article&utm_content=bottombuybutton12022-2023-season/indecent/

Photo credit: Jessica Palopoli


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From This Author - Steve Murray

Steve Murray is a writer for Cabaret Scenes magazine, contributor to ForAllEvents and now BroadwayWorld. He started writing rock reviews for his college newspaper in the 1970’s, produced a va... (read more about this author)


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