Yiddish Theater Scores in Creativity

Yiddish Theater Scores in Creativity

Marcia Caller Jaffe

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Above: “Dispossessed” features (from left) Scott Rousseau, Amelia Fischer, Jake Krakovsky and Kathleen McManus. (Photo by Stungun Photography)

I was intrigued with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of “Dispossessed,” a backstage comedy about a Yiddish theater troupe being performed in Southwest Atlanta — not exactly the grounds of the Marcus Jewish Community Center.

Being a fan of intimate stages and period pieces, I gave it a go.

The Essential Theatre’s premiere of “Dispossessed” was crafted by Karen Wurl, a local playwright who won a Georgia creative writers award for this show.

Based on a Yiddish theater in 1928 on the Lower East Side of New York, the show puts nine actors through a mosaic of plights, including marrying for love (or not), dealing with infidelity in your parents’ marriage, an early stab at woman’s lib, women competing for the same lout of a guy, inner vs. outer beauty, and ultimately Old World values being trumped by the New World.

The harder plot to follow was “The Dybbuk,” the Jewish play being performed by the troupe about the exorcism of a bride-to-be who is possessed by the spirit of her dead true love. The spirit comes and goes, and the scene is often repeated with no particular function.

The actors do a fine enough job with fake beards, a tallit, kippot and some sort of velvet Star of David covering.

The main complaint here is that they do not quite get the accent on point. Some have an Irish lilt; some are Hispanic-like or event British. All are trying to get the German oy gevaltisms into Americana Yiddish.

Bottom line: The play holds your interest and could attract a larger audience in a different venue. But I guess that misses the point.

“Dispossessed” continues at the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. through Sunday, Aug. 28. Tickets are $20 to $25; visit www.essentialtheatre.com for details.

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