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Awake and Sing! by Clifford Odets – Los Angeles Theater Review

 

ALL IN ODETS'S FAMILY

 

picture - Awake and Sing!Theater Review

by Harvey Perr 

published April 4, 2010 

 

Awake and Sing!

now playing in Los Angeles at A Noise Within Theatre 

through May 23 

 

Clifford Odets transformed Yiddish vernacular into American poetry and his best plays are among the glories of our dramatic literature. A Noise Within, a theater company of long standing, has lovingly recreated the Bronx apartment in which Bessie Berger controls a household that, in theater history, is one of the most memorable of families, along with the Tyrones, the Lomans and the Wingfields. That said, this production is respectable enough and serviceable enough, but it has not, unfortunately, found its pulse. And, without emotional resonance, Awake and Sing! seems merely a bleak reminder of another time, not a living testament to its enduring beauties. There are some good performances – Len Lesser’s Jacob, the old leftist whose love for his grandson leads him to protect the boy against Bessie’s tyranny; Daniel Reichert’s Moe Axelrod, the hustler who lost his leg in the war and is in love with the headstrong and frustrated Hennie; Molly Leland’s Hennie – but, for the most part, the Jewishness is layed on with so much schmaltz that the real flavor of Odets’s soaring language gets lost. And the big climax – which should build in a slow crescendo within every bone of Bessie’s body from the minute she appears – when Bessie breaks her father-in-law’s Caruso recordings, comes and goes with a dull thud, never even beginning to realize the shattering impact it should have. There is more to Bessie than complaining, more to Myron than weakness and whining, more to Ralph than hovering, but the deeper truths of the play have been glossed over in this earnest but shallow production.

 

harveyperr @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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