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Indecent Offers Absorbing Look at Theater Troupe’s Trials
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Madje Asch, played by Elizabeth Dahlen, reads “God of Vengeance” for the first time as her husband Sholem, played by Steve Serva-Gonzales, nervously looks on.
   
Friday, February 9, 2024
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

They’re the ghosts of theater past. Ghosts who come back to life in Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Vogel’s story “Indecent” to tell the tale of a little-known Yiddish play that created a scandal when it opened at Broadway’s Apollo Theater in 1923.

The Sun Valley Community School Players, under the direction of Kevin Wade, have taken on this play. And, in their hands, it’s an absorbing multi-layered production featuring polished acting and singing that belies the young actors’ ages.

The play, which opened on Thursday, continues at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday, Feb. 10.

 
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Rabbi Silverman, played by Ingrid Pratt, delivers a scathing denouncement of “God of Vengeance.”
 

The play is based on Polish playwright Slolem Asch’s 1906 play “God of Vengeance,” which received acclaim throughout Europe in places like Berlin and Bratislava before running headfirst into obscenity charges on Broadway.

The production was shut down and the cast jailed on obscenity charges. And, eventually, the play returned to Europe where it played in attics of Jewish ghettos as the Holocaust began to cast its shadow.

The story is brought to life by stage manager Lemml, played by Cassius Klingenfuss. He boasts an unwavering commitment to telling and retelling the story as he leads his theater troupe through vignettes recreating the life of the play starting with its inception.

Along the way, the audience witnesses Slolem’s transformation from an idealistic young playwright out to change the world to one who is crushed by antisemitism and other horrors of the world.

 
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Judge McIntyre, played by Moxxie Tellez, passes down a verdict finding the actors guilty of indecency.
 

The play probes such issues as censorship and homophobia, while managing to remain warm and idealistic. And, though it is not a musical, it offers some wonderful musical numbers ranging from a klezmer dance number to beautiful harmony by the Bagelman Sisters and others.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for students and can be obtained by going online at https://www.communityschool.org and clicking on “US Play Tickets.”

 
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Slolem Asch and John Rosen, played by Steve Serva-Gonzales and Evan Dittami, discuss a new production of “God of Vengeance.”
 

 
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Sholem and Madje Asche, played by Steven Serva-Gonzales and Elizabeth Dahlen, discuss Sholem’s experience investigating pogroms in Vilna and Kiev.
 

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