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March 5, 2020 8:17 am

New Off-Broadway Play Explores Jewish Families

avatar by Alice Burdick Schweiger

Review

A scene from ‘The Perplexed.’ Photo: provided.

The Perplexed, written by acclaimed playwright Richard Greenberg, is running Off-Broadway at New York City Center-Stage 1, through March 29.

In the play, two Jewish families with a long-involved tumultuous history, unite at a Fifth Avenue apartment owned by a Jewish billionaire. The families, who have been estranged, are about to celebrate the marriage of their two children. Set in the library of the lavish apartment, wedding festivities in the room behind the door can be heard but not seen.

Before the ceremony, the bride, groom, siblings, parents, relatives, and rabbi take turns making appearances in the library, where deep-seated grudges, jealousies, animosities, and secrets are revealed. The dialogue includes many Yiddish and Jewish expressions — mishpuchah, mensch, meshugas, beshert, and more.

This new comedy, presented by Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC), stars Gregg Edelman, Ilana Levine, Eric William Morris, Patrick Breen, Anna Itty, and Frank Wood. It’s directed by Lynne Meadow, who is also MTC’s artistic director.

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Greenberg’s plays often involve Jewish characters and families. He grew up on Long Island, New York. After graduating from East Meadow High School in 1976, he went on to earn a degree at Princeton University. He attended Harvard for graduate work in English and American Literature, but dropped out when he was accepted to the Yale School of Drama’s playwriting program. Greenberg has had more than 25 plays on and Off-Broadway. His play Take Me Out, which is about a gay baseball player and explores homophobia, won a Tony Award in 2003 and will be revived on Broadway starting in April.

As for The Perplexed, Ilana Levine, who plays Natalie Hochberg-Resnick (Edelman’s wife in the show) praised Greenberg in a recent Playbill article: “Nobody writes with so much integrity and intelligence and profoundly complex language that you really have to lean into.”

Tickets for The Perplexed can be purchased online at www.nycitycenter.org, by calling  CityTix at 212-581-1212, or by visiting the New York City Center box office (131 West 55th Street). Special rates are available for groups of 10 or more.

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