Monday, February 11, 2008

The Beverly Hills Courier
The Cutler Review
February 8 2008

by Jerry Cutler
3 Bagels out of 4

Yiddish Theater: A Love Story doesn't hold out much hope for the future of Yiddish Theater.
The Award winning documentary directed by Dan Katzir and produced by Ravit Markus and Yael Katzir was, for my, a delightful trip down memory lane.
It tells the story of Zypora Spaisman, a sprightly and charismatic 84 year old actress and Holocause survivor, whose fortitue and dedication to the Yiddish art form had kept the Folksbiene theater alive for many years. There is great insight into the psyche of the elderly actors who are unwavering in their love for the theater. The story begins on the now multi-cultural lower East side of New York, as the show Green Fields, is performed to less than capacity customers.
Undaunted, two elderly producers and the hearty Ms. Spaisman, try to raise enough money to take them from the hard to get to theater to a Broadway venue and the possibility of more patrons.
You can guess the outcome of the venture, but the anticipation, the never say die attitude and Katzir's photography of the stark winter streets of New York, is a treat. When I wasa a young child, I remember my parents taking me to the second Avenue Yiddish Theatre to see a play starring Molly Picon. Her antics, even though I didn't understand the dialogue, stay with me till this day. My father was a Yiddish scholar and had his own program on New York's leading Jewish station, WEVD.
He spoke mainly English in the ouse with my New York born, mother. Today I can't hold an in depth Yiddish conversation.
I mourn the passing of Yiddish Theater and feel that I, and others like me, are in someway responsible for its demise. I apologize to Ms. Spaisman who I met during the run of a play at the the original Folksbiene Theater in the jewish Forward building on the lower East Side.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the Yiddish Theater: A Love Story which transported me back to a less complicated and carefree time of my life. It is currently at the Laemmle's Monica.
So, go see it already and enjoy.
3 bagels out of 4

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