Awake and Sing!
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Review of Awake & Sing! - Tip
of the Week
reviewed by Nina Metz
In just a few short years, Timeline
Theatre Company has established itself as one of the
classiest and most consistently talented ensembles on
the off-Loop theater scene. They begin their 2002-2003
season with an engaging production of Clifford Odets'
1935 drama of cramped family life, "Awake and Sing!"
Incredibly political, the play itself is never strident,
and director Louis Contey understands this well; his
staging reflects a sensitive attention to the details
of each character's personal hell. The story centers
on a Jewish family stuffed into a Bronx tenement (designed
by Noelle C.K. Hathaway) that is the epitome of dilapidated
dignity—you can practically smell the mothballs.
Each member of this family—the overbearing mother
(a role originated by Stella Adler), the passive father,
the disillusioned son and daughter, the resigned grandfather—feels
trapped. There's simply not enough room, literally and
metaphorically, to think or breathe. And yet Odets somehow
instills a sense of hope; the blackness of these lives
is not without light. To single out any one member of
this rock-solid cast would detract from their excellent
work as an ensemble. This is truly a complex family,
and the cast wisely avoids a cutesy Neil Simon-ish depiction
of Depression-era Jewish life.