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BAR MITZVAH BOY Jewish Repertory Theatre/on-line
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Nov 18, 2020, 12:25
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Through November 25
BAR MITZVAH BOY Jewish Repertory Theatre/on-line

Every family has histories, the idiot relative, tragedy, the wonderful vacation somewhere and maybe some family facts which are fake news.
That’s what Mark Leiren-Young’s “Bar Mitzvah Boy” is about, two people trying to find themselves in families which aren’t doing well.
Michael (Diane DiBernardo) is a young rabbi with an impending family tragedy.
Joey (Peter Palmisano) is an aging successful divorce lawyer, with a difficult daughter and a much-loved grandson who is near his bar mitzvah.
He is going through the process of learning his Hebrew prayers and what he wants to say at his service.
The grandson wants his bar mitzvah in the same synagogue as his grandfather.
The linch-pin of the story is that Joey was never bar mitzvahed, no matter what his daughter and grandson believe.
Joey decides he must solve that by becoming a Jewish man in his mid-sixties, before his grandson is.
He goes to see Rabbi Michael at that synagogue, his first visit to the building in 52 years.
The lawyer discovers Michael is a little misleading, since a female rabbi is in charge.
Over time, his story of why he hasn’t been to a synagogue since his youth slowly oozes out, as the rabbi starts telling her troubled story.
She’s much more into the service and the preaching parts of her job and a lot less into the faith and belief part of being a rabbi.
Two troubled people colliding.
Director Saul Elkin has tried to keep the story as possible to a stage performance as possible, as the cameras roll.
He also uses, effectively, images of an old synagogue on Buffalo’s West Side and a Downtown office building for Joey’s office site.
It works pretty well, although there are those annoying heel click sounds on the stage and poorer audio from DiBernardo, perhaps because the mike is too far away for her voice.
There is also the issue of cheap speakers on the laptop I was using to watch the show.
Elkin not only provides the usual program material of the backstage techies who make this all work, he also has a glossary of the terms so the goyim like me have a better understanding of what’s going on.
The show is an interesting example of how tradition has a downside, something we are seeing in the world around us.
“Bar Mitzvah Boy” is also an interesting proof that some of us become adults later than others and that’s why these strong performances and a strong script are worth seeing.

A.W.

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