New Yiddish Rep brings an American classic to new life in a new production of Clifford Odet's masterwork. Performed in Yiddish with English supertitles. More…
Generally considered Clifford Odets' finest play, 'Awake And Sing!' is the story of the Bergers, a lower-middle-class, three-generation Jewish family living in a Bronx apartment during the Depression. The play recalls that this country was founded as the land of opportunity for immigrants who came with an enduring belief in the American dream. Translated into Yiddish in 1935 by Chaver Paver, 'Awake And Sing!' reflects the heart and soul of a young man who would become the leading voice for social justice in Depression-era America.
“New Yiddish Rep's production is fascinating, and the acting is the winning feature...This ensemble leans into gender dynamics and flips them on their head. Mandelbaum’s direction leaves room for male vulnerability and lets the female characters stand as beacons of strength against the men...The production is lovely and simple...Shows how the hope for the future of Yiddish theatre lies in hearty pieces about economic disparity and love, and heartache, and family.” Full Review
“Mandelbaum has gradually unearthed enough aspiring young actors who grew up in Yiddish-speaking households and can express the emotions behind the words with their voices and body movements because the subtleties of Yiddish are ingrained in their DNA...The actors really inhabit the souls of their characters and bring them to life in ways that make your heart stand up and cheer...A moving, nostalgic but realistic play with a plausibly happy ending and titles that are easy to see.” Full Review
“Performing Odets in Yiddish might sound both redundant and self-defeating, but it works. Thanks to an excellent cast and a sudden relevance for the play Odets couldn’t have dreamed of, something is definitely gained in the translation...A connection to the Jewish past — and the political present...The Yiddish in this ‘Awake and Sing!’ makes it a more particular story and, Odets would no doubt kvell, a more universal one.” Full Review
“The show really feels at home in this Yiddish production...The whole thing is warm and comfy, with an emphasis on the status and power of women in Jewish families...The play sounds absolutely lovely in Yiddish, flowing with the beauty and angst ingrained in the language like no other...The theater is also filled with Yiddish songs as the audience enters and during intermission, adding to the nostalgic atmosphere.” Full Review
“Unfortunately, what seems like a good idea on paper sometimes doesn’t pan out when you put it on it’s feet...In 1935, it may have kept the audience rapt...But in 2017, when a young man says he wants something more out of life than what’s printed on dollar bills, my reaction is, ‘yeah, so what are you going to do about it?...He never does anything...The fact that you have to read the supertitles instead of watch the actors, makes the production feel drawn out and sluggish.” Full Review
“Even though Yiddish sounds right at home in these characters' mouths, Odets' own brand of word music -- cauterizing wisecracks mixed with moonstruck idealism -- is sorely missed...It may very well be that Paver's adaptation finds an equivalent tone, but, to my ears, the original words are missed...Submerged, yet powerful, emotions are largely missing in this staging...Mandelbaum never finds the momentum that will push this clan to the breaking point.” Full Review
See it if Conflicted sympathetic characters trapped by poverty, pride and tradition seek a way ahead. Compelling writing and acting. I was drawn in.
Don't see it if You won't enjoy an intense, emotional drama where everyone is unhappy. Even their hopes and dreams are grim.
See it if You enjoy a well acted Yiddish production. The sadness of the struggling immigrant life in Depression era America is movingly portrayed.
Don't see it if You are looking for a cheerful story.
See it if You enjoy the sensibility of a classic play and family dramas.
Don't see it if You don’t want to read super titles or find plays by Odets and contemporaries Williams, Miller, etc to be tedious.
See it if If you like Clifford Odete's thought provoking drama. If you enjoy Yiddish theater with English subtitles.
Don't see it if If you don't enjoy Yiddish theater or reading subtitles.
See it if You can connect the dots from Depression Era problems to today’s current events. Acting so real characters seem to step from home movies.
Don't see it if Supra-titles bother you. There is hope but no promises for the characters; not a happy ending if that’s what you require. Lite sets & props.
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