The Chosen at Shalom College

The Chosen at Shalom College


Posted 2014-09-01 by Erica Enriquezfollow

Mon 01 Sep 2014 - Sun 14 Sep 2014

When: Now until Sunday, 14th September
TImes: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2pm and 7:30pm
Where: Shalom Centre, Barker Street, Kensington NSW (opposite McDonalds)
Bookings: | 02 9381 4160

This is the story of two young men with two very different fathers, growing up in two very different Jewish communities, in post-war Brooklyn. It's a coming-of-age story that was written from a very specific point of view, but can still be enjoyed by all for its universal themes.

Adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok, The Chosen is about Reuven Malter and Danny Saunders, whom we meet at the start of the play as mere teenagers. Throughout the course of the play, we see them grow into men, and watch as their views on life and in particular their relationships with their fathers change.

Reuven (played by Anthony Darvall ) is a Modern Orthodox Jew , and had never given a second thought to Danny (played by Gabriel McCarthy ), the Hasidic Jew who lives in his neighbourhood. Their home lives could not be more different. Through flashback scenes and narration given by the elder Reuven looking back on his life, we learn that his father David is a teacher and encourages open discussion with his son. Danny's father Isaac is a Rabbi and tzadik , who moved his community years ago from the murderous cossacks in Russia to settle in the USA. He is well-respected in his community, and expects Danny to become a Rabbi like him when he is old enough.

After a fateful baseball game, Reuven and Danny become friends, and they learn that despite their differences, they are similar in more ways than they imagined, and over time, through historical events like the end of World War II, the unfolding of the true devastation of the Holocaust and finally the creation of the state of Israel, they rely on not just each other's wisdom but the wisdom of each other's fathers, with Danny and Isaac's relationship experiencing the most dramatic change.

I watched this production on Opening Night, with the audience primarily from Sydney's Jewish Community. During the intermission, I noticed that a lot of the audience members spoke warmly of reading the book when they were younger - it was first released in 1967. The fact that director Moira Blumenthal had created this stage production based on such an iconic story proves that this is a tight-knit community, still able to tap into the culture that reminds them of who they are and where they've all come from.

But that's not to say that this can't be enjoyed by others. The warmth and humour carried by the Yiddish phrases and words in the dialouge makes you feel like you've stepped into someone's home, and McCarthy, Darvall and the rest of the cast (Maeloisa Stafford, Daniel Mitchell and Barry French) certainly brought a closeness on stage that you'd need between father and son and best friends. In fact, the play itself, with the narration from Reuven as an older man, made you felt like someone was telling you a story from the comfort of their living room, with you curled up in their softest armchair.

There's not a man, woman or child alive who won't recognise the strain of trying to be the person your parent want you to be, even though you know you're someone else. There isn't anyone who won't believe that best friends can be made even from the schoolboy violence in a baseball game. And, as for the heavier themes of religion, Zionism and war, well, the whole point of theatre is to open you up to other ideas. And if Danny and Reuven can let themselves be affected by each other's beliefs, then the audience can, too.

#theatre -reviews
!date 01/09/2014 -- 14/09/2014
195201 - 2023-06-16 04:07:31


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