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High Holy Days
The authorís surrogate is Billy Roman (plump and plucky Max Zuppa), a slightly stuttering daydreamer afraid to read the Torah for his Bar Mitzvah and obsessed with joining a different tribe— any one thatís native American. His tough-loving mom (Rengin Altay, giving and getting guilt galore), worries in all directions. His discouraging dad (Keith Kupferer, beset and besotted) demands that his sons respect his sacrifice, even as he questions the point. Finally, supposedly college-bound Rob (Ian Paul Custer) prefers to sing folk songs in California, not pursue a degree in Bloomington, Indiana. He refuses to rot in their self-made ghetto.
This sure sounds familiar as in Awake and Sing (and barely skirts some Deja Jew stereotypes), but whatís astonishing is the dramaís refusal to resolve the action or reconcile the characters. As uncompromising as the script, Steven Robmanís staging shows how the combination of a high holiday and a major rite of passage brings out the very worst in a family that already feels cultural
ly isolated. A kind of Jewish ďGlass Menagerie or Dancing at Lughnasa, High Holidays is a bittersweet remembrance of a clan on the skids, finally together in order to fall apart forever. It takes nerve to write about so much dirty laundry and unpackaged baggage---and courage to produce a play that will alienate its core audience and, despite its universality, will no doubt be accused of betraying its minority.
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