The cast of Indecent. Photo by Carol Rosegg
The reviews are in for Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman’s exquisite play with music, inspired by the true story of the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance.
Created by Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman
By Paula Vogel
Directed by Rebecca Taichman
Choreographed by David Dorfman
Katrina Lenk, Mimi Lieber, Max Gordon Moore, Tom Nelis, Steven Rattazzi, Richard Topol, Adina Verson, Ben Cherry, Andrea Goss, Eleanor Reissa
Ben Brantley – New York Times
Such conscientiousness has its downside. For all its resourceful stagecraft — which includes the fluent use of period and original pastiche song (overseen by Ms. Gutkin and Mr. Halva) and dance (by David Dorfman) — “Indecent” can be deflatingly earnest in its dialogue and timeline exposition.
Marilyn Stasio – Variety
Here’s a sure bet for the regional theater circuit — a play about a play that shocked Broadway and landed both the show’s producer and its leading man in jail. “Indecent” is what critics called the 1922 production of “The God of Vengeance” when this Yiddish play by Sholem Asch moved uptown from the Village. “Indecent” is also the name Paula Vogel has given the riveting backstage drama she’s written (with director Rebecca Taichman) about the intertwined lives of an acting company and the roles they played in this scandalous production.
Jeremy Gerard – Deadline
It’s humbling, not to say near-impossible, to fully convey the thrumming resonance of Indecent, the evanescent shimmer of a show that arrived on Broadway tonight following its New York debut last spring at the Vineyard Theatre. But I’ll give it my best and hope that you’ll set aside any argument touting its importance – because Indecent ain’t just spinach – and instead make haste for the Cort Theatre simply to share the astonishing power of this new play with music about a delicious ancient Broadway scandal that pulses through the decades to our own time.
Joe Dziemianowicz – NY Daily News
There was a time when a smooch shared by two women on stage could be deemed smutty enough to shutter the production. Yes, that happened. “Indecent,” the heart-stirring and haunting play created in tandem by author Paula Vogel and director Rebecca Taichman offers a dramatic reminder of that — and of the power of art.
Chris Jones – Chicago Tribune
Vogel’s connection to this play and what it did for her as a young artist is at the core of why “Indecent” deserves this production and the support it surely will need from the popular audience. For the many fans of this famous teaching artist, “Indecent” will feel like one widely acclaimed artist pointing out how she was dependent on the earlier struggles of another who was not so lucky in his moment of birth. The factuality of that lineage is irrefutable, and it explains how most arts teachers get out of bed in the morning.
Elysa Gardner – Entertainment Weekly
Violent and ominous activity abroad increasingly weighs on Asch, who is shaken after visiting the sites of pogroms in the early ‘20s, and Greene makes his internal strife achingly plain. But he and the rest of Indecent’s excellent ensemble — featuring a luminous Katrina Lenk, who brings crackling mischief to the actress playing the prostitute, and Adina Verson, warm and sly in roles including that actress’s lover on and offstage — also convey an exuberance and a sense of purpose, reminding us that art can motivate, agitate and uplift. In our own troubled century, there’s at least some encouragement to be found there.
Tim Teeman – The Daily Beast
But Indecent’s roving eye, its busy-ness, its insistence to be about everything—homophobia, censorship, freedom of expression, tyranny—is as fascinating and genuine as it can be frustrating to watch. In New York in the early 1920s, the lesbian themes of the play migrate to a real-life affair between the actresses playing them—with not even one of them suffering a bed-bug infestation dampening their ardor.
Matthew Murray – Talkin’ Broadway
But that, too, eventually becomes part of the point, as viewpoints and interpretations of it collide time and time again, requiring everyone to discover for themselves how and why it speaks to them, and then choose what steps to take (or not take) as a result. Theatre, like religion, love, and so many of the other forces that drive our lives and Vogel’s compelling, breath-stealing play, is often in the eye of the beholder. That’s what makes all those things great—and what, ultimately, makes Indecent great as well.
Christopher Kelly – NJ.com
Of course, this brand of theater — Broadway by way of a PBS documentary — can be very tricky to pull off, not without drowning an audience in exposition, a problem that the creators of last year’s musical-about-a-forgotten-musical “Shuffle Along” struggled with. But Vogel (who won the Pulitzer for “How I Learned to Drive”) and director Rebecca Taichman have created a fast-moving yet lucid drama whose short scenes convey a tremendous amount of information and a surprising amount of feeling. The creators use a full array of theatrical tools — rear-screen supertitles, brief Yiddish song-and-dance numbers, a lovely motif involving ashes pouring forth from the actors’ sleeves– to lend a sense of poetry, spectacle and scale to what might otherwise have been a too-modest tale.
Linda Winer – Newsday
Has there ever been anything quite like “Indecent,” a play that touches — I mean deeply touches — so much rich emotion about history and the theater, anti-Semitism, homophobia, censorship, world wars, red-baiting and, oh, yes, joyful human passion?