Indecent dramatizes the epic journey of the Jews in Europe and America in the early part of the 20th century. Staged with utter brilliance through the story of the staging of a single play, Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, here is an event at the Cort Theater that brings that controversial 1907 work back to Broadway.
Opening with the actors, suitcases in hand on a bare black space, this 100 minute fast-paced tour from Berlin to Constantinople, to New York and back to Lodz and the great beyond, had the star-packed opening night audience –including Joel Grey, Molly Ringwald, Julie Taymor, Tovah Feldshuh, Arianna Huffington,
Mercedes Ruehl, and many more—revealing where their ancestors were from, how they came to America, where they were during the McCarthy period. No small task, however small the venue, Indecent was a breathtaking sweep for the audience, the cast and crew, and the creators, Paula Vogel and director Rebecca Taichman. More than one said, “This is for my grandmother.”
That’s the bare bones of a telling that also involves music and song (Matt Darriau, Lisa Gutkin, Aaron Halva) all evoking Yiddishkeit. In her copious research, Vogel found that yes, plays were performed in secret in the ghetto, until the Nazi appointed head of the Jewish elders, Rumkowsky, ordered them to stop. Happily, and with heart and humor, this story, one we may think we know, continues in this theater history, fresh and alive.