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AFTER THE REVOLUTION Jewish Repertory Theatre/The Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre
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Feb 15, 2017, 14:17
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Through March 5
AFTER THE REVOLUTION, Jewish Repertory Theatre/The Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre

By Augustine Warner

Family is central to theater, at least since “Antigone” and consistently coming down to us as the price of the generations and the rules.
There are also the illusions of family, that there were great people in prior generations, that they did the right thing in bad circumstances.
Certainly, Emma Joseph (Bonnie Jean Taylor) believes that of her grandfather, actually starting the Joe Joseph Fund, for the man who refused to name names during the McCarthy era.
When Amy Herzog’s “After the Revolution” opens in its 1999 timeframe, the fund is spending to help clear Mumia abu-Jamal, convicted twice of killed a Philadelphia cop under circumstances raising questions about what happened at the death scene and in the court system.
Emma even spoke at her Columbia Law School graduation of the values of her grandfather.
The difficulty is that the story of her grandfather isn’t accurate.
American code-breaking after World War II showed that Joe Joseph was a Soviet spy and a book is about to come out which talks about that and what he did in wartime with OSS, the legendary Office of Strategic Services where he had access to important papers and gave them to the Soviets.
Emma discovers her father knew, as did other members of her family, some of whom approve of what Joe did.
Being young and inflexible, Emma says she should have been told and then locks up on what to do, retreating to her apartment and secret meetings with some relatives.
It destroys her relationship with boyfriend and fund employee Miguel (Adam Rath).
It’s not just that Emma is young and a rookie in the great issues, it’s that the members of her family are shaped by their time, step-grandmother Vera (Tina Rausa) who approves of what Joe did, addict sister Jess (Anne Roaldi Boucher) who was told years earlier, dad Ben (David Marciniak) who grew up in the bad years when Joe was blacklisted and barely able to feed and house his family and covered up what his father did.
What would you do?
It’s clear Herzog believes almost everyone made the wrong decisions.
Joe’s spying destroyed his marriage and scarred his sons, wrecked Ben’s marriage although it did bring new wife Mel (Lisa Ludwig) into the family, after her own exposure to radicalism and arrest.
Not everyone knew for sure, with Uncle Leo (Steve Vaughan) not knowing for sure but suspecting Dad was a spy and Morty (apparently Joe’s rich and successful brother), who isn’t surprised and tells Emma it was the times, when Communism in the Depression was the alternative to Capitalism and the tragedy of the Crash.
“After the Revolution” is one of those plays people often talk about but don’t really want to see, plays which make you think.
You can think about how people react in hard times, how new generations don’t understand what older generations did, how family members can whitewash the activities of prior generations, how tough situations can destroy personal relationships.
Director Saul Elkin has a strong cast to work with, especially Marciniak, Rausa and Taylor.
I’m not sure he needed the revolving stage for David Dwyer’s minimalist set.
This play is also relevant in exploring the decisions people make in tough times, perhaps what’s starting up now.
See “After the Revolution” and look at how the sins of the Fathers can fall down on the next seven generations and think about it all.

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