Tag Archives: New Rep Theatre

Ishaq and Zeblyan: Stubborn, Vindictive,  Miserable, And Very Funny

Two Jews Walk Into A War…

By Seth Rozn

Directed by Will LeBow

At The New Rep, Watertown, MA

Through May 20

As Seth Rozin’s Two Jews Walk Into A War…begins we see Ishaq (Joel Colodner) and Zeblyan (Jeremiah Kissel) standing over the coffin of Yakob. The three had been the only Jews still living in Kabul,Afghanistan, now with Yakob gone it is down to the two of them. You would think they would feel a common bond that would unite them in their struggle to survive and keep Judaism alive in their part of the world. It turns out Ishaq and Zeblyan hate each other. Yakob had been the peacemaker, and now with him gone the gloves have come off.

Ishaq (Joel Colodner) and Zeblyan (Jeremiah Kissel)
(Photo: Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures)

The bickering begins and insults are exchanged with each trying outdo each other with how much they have suffered, how much their families have suffered, how much each other’s family is to blame for their circumstances, and just about anything else that happens to cross their minds. The exchanges are funny and fast paced. Kissel and Colodner combine great comedic timing with subtle, and not so subtle, facial expressions and hand gestures. 

The two do finally begin to settle on a common goal; Keeping Judiaism alive in Kabul. They first decide that repopulating the city with Jews should be the goal, but war torn Afghanistan is not quite on most people’s lists of places to relocate to. Ishaq then comes up with the  idea of converting a Muslim woman to Judaism and fathering a child by her. This poses a number of problems including the fact that there can be no conversion rite without a Torah, and the Torah from their synagogue had been stolen by the Taliban. The two now set out to produce a new one.

Ishaq and Zeblyan
(Photo: Andrewn Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures)

Ishaq has memorized the words from the Five Books of Moses and will dictate them to Zeblyan who will act as scribe. In fact, Ishaq has not only memorized the words but also the punctuation leading Zeblyan to say to him “You’re a Torah Geek!” The two continue to argue, even coming to blows at one point, but make progress over time in working together to accomplish their goal. 

 Some of the funniest lines come when Zeblyan questions the word of God. For instance, he wants to know why it is forbidden for a man to a lie down with another man but their is no such pronouncement about a woman lying with another woman: “Could Shem have a little girl/girl thing going on here?”  While funny, it does show how when looking into one’s faith questions and doubts do arise. 

The play also relates much about human nature. While both men are petty and vindictive, they both struggle for a common and larger goal, never giving up on their faith. Their spite and stubbornness actually fuel their resolve and give them the strength to carry on. It is where they find their resilience. 

The play is described by director Wlll LeBow as a “vaudeville” but I also see touches of Godot. In spite of their suffering and anger towards each other, Zeblyan and Ishaq never come close to giving up. 

Ishaq and Zeblyan
(Photo: Andrewn Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures)

Jeremiah Kissel and Joel Colodner don’t slow down for a minute in this fast moving piece that makes for a wonderful theatre experience. Two musicians off to the side of the stage playing on drums and an oud along with an excellent and perfectly lit set that recreates the interior of the only remaining synagogue in Kabul, is just the right atmosphere to enhance this fine performance. 

I very much enjoyed my evening with Zeblyan and Ishaq. The New Rep has closed out their latest season on a high note. 

Two Jews Walk Into A War…

By Seth Rozin

Directed by Will LeBow

Through May 20

The New Rep Theatre

Mosesian Center For The Arts

321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA 




SEPTEMBER 2-24, 2017

“This season we felt compelled to look at the resilience of the human spirit,” says Artistic Director Jim Petosa. “At a time when it is increasingly difficult to decipher truth from fallacy in politics and the news, Ideation allows us to explore actions of thought in the creation of realties. In this thrilling, and darkly comic mystery, the truth becomes so twisted that we begin to question everything. We’re asking those who see the show to please spread the word, but don’t give away the ending!”
“After the tremendous success of last year, we’re thrilled to present another remarkable season at New Rep,” says Managing Director Harriet Sheets. “Our first production of the season takes us deep into the inner-workings of a fast-paced consulting firm and their a-list team. Joining us on that team are a number of New Rep regulars: Christine Hamel, Lewis D. Wheeler, and Ed Hoopman, along with Jake Murphy, who made his New Rep debut last season, and newcomer Matt Ketai. We welcome them all for what is sure to be one of our most talked about productions of the season!”

In Aaron Loeb’s darkly comic psychological thriller, a group of top-tier consultants are tasked with a mysterious project for an unnamed client. The team must come up with a solution to a morally and ethically ambiguous hypothetical—one that threatens to tear the team apart. Ideation is a captivating new work that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

CHRISTINE HAMEL* (Hannah) returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Brecht on Brecht, Broken Glass, On the Verge, Ragtime, and Sweeney Todd.
ED HOOPMAN* (Ted) returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in Mister Roberts, Indulgences and touring productions of Macbeth and Hamlet. Recent credits include Camelot (Lyric Stage Company); and Finish Line (Boston Theater Company/Boch Center).
Mosesian Center for the Arts321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA 02472
For more information:Telephone: 617-923-8487



Johnny Lee Davenport

Featuring nine productions, New Rep’s 2017-2018 season includes Ideation, a dark satirical comedy and Boston-area premiere; Oleanna, David Mamet’s groundbreaking drama, featuring Johnny Lee Davenport; Man of La Mancha, a revival of the Tony award-winning musical, featuring Maurice Emmanuel Parent; Unveiled, a one-woman show written and performed by Rohina Malik and co- produced with Stoneham Theatre; Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act, and engaging political drama by Athol Fugard; Lonely Planet, an evocative social drama by Steven Dietz; Ripe Frenzy, a site-specific drama and Boston-area premiere; The Bakelite Masterpiece, a riveting historical drama and Boston-area premiere; and Two Jews Walk into a War…, a hilarious existential comedy featuring Jeremiah Kissel.

Jeremiah Kissel

“The plays in our 2017-2018 season will showcase the remarkable resilience of the human spirit,” says Artistic Director Jim Petosa. “Theatre has the power to shed light in dark times, to illuminate and stimulate thought, and to provide a forum for us to come together as a community in conversation. It is our hope that these plays will inspire and engage as New Repertory Theatre continues to be a place where the vital ideas of our time can be discussed freely and openly.”

“Our 2016-2017 season was one of our most successful ever, and we owe a great amount of that success to our patrons,” says Managing Director Harriet Sheets. “We heard from so many audiences members throughout the year and

their passion and enthusiasm for our productions and mission was clear. It is because of that support that the Boston Globe recently called us ‘a potent force,’ and so we’re pleased to share another extraordinary lineup in 2017-2018.”

MainStage Theater & BlackBox Theater | Mosesian Center for the Arts 321 Arsenal Street | Watertown, MA 02472

617-923-8487 newrep.org

Raise A Glass And Sip A Drop Of Schnapps To This Fiddler

Fiddler On The Roof

New Rep Theatre Watertown

Through January 1

Reviewed by Bobby Franklin

Jeremiah Kissel as Tevye
Jeremiah Kissel as Tevye

The current run of Fiddler On The Roof at the New Rep Theatre was extended even before it opened. Audiences had high expectations for this production which is being directed by Austin Pendleton. So, did Mr. Pendleton and company meet expectations? The answer is a resounding yes. They met and exceeded them.

This version is a joy to see in the intimate setting of the New Rep Theater. From the opening number, Tradition, it is abundantly clear Jeremiah Kissel is more than up for the role of Tevye. While Mr. Kissel may not have the vocal range for all of the numbers, he does have something more important; Kissel’s voice is warm and full of the decency and kindness that is embodied in Tevye.

Kissel’s voice is warm and full of the decency and kindness that is embodied in Tevye.

Watching and listening to him as he sees life around him changing more rapidly than he can keep up with, and as he struggles with his adherence to traditions while also wanting the best for his daughters brings smiles and tears to the eye. Teyve is a man struggling with many things but who remains optimistic and humorous. His ongoing conversations with God reflect this. Jeremiah Kissel captures all of this.

Make no mistake, this is not a one man show. Director Pendleton has assembled a large and very strong cast for this production. Amelia Broome as Tevye’s wife Golde is perfect opposite Mr. Kissel. Listening to them sing together in Sunrise, Sunset and Do You Love Me? is a joy. Their voices convey a warmth and love that will melt the coldest of hearts.

Abby Goldfarb, Sarah Oakes, Victoria Britt
Abby Goldfarb, Sarah Oakes, Victoria Britt

Abby Goldfarb is radiant on the stage as Tzeitel, the first of Tevye’s daughters to rebel against tradition by pledging her love to Motel the tailor. Motel is played by Patrick Varner in an understated fashion that we soon realize encompasses the full range of growth his timid character experiences as he turns into a strong and confident husband. Varner is damn good in doing this. He is a joy when performing Miracle of Miracles.

When Joseph Stein and Jerry Bock first wrote Fiddler they must have had Bobbie Steinbach in mind for the role of Yenta. She takes over the stage as the busy body matchmaker who is seeing the breaks from tradition affecting her business. Just watching her walk on and off the stage is a pleasure.

Abby Goldfarb is radiant on the stage as Tzeitel.

Mr. Pendleton has the Fiddler, played by Dashiell Evett, remain on stage throughout most of the play. His silent presence can be interpreted as, perhaps, a witness to what is happening, or maybe as representing the traditions that are passing. At one point Tevye, while struggling with the decision to disown his daughter Chava (VIctoria Britt) because she has chosen to marry out of the faith, reaches over and joins hands with the Fiddler. It is a poignant moment as we feel the pain of this kind man forced into a terribly difficult position.

Dashiell Even, Amelia Broome, Bobbi Steinbach
Dashiell Even, Amelia Broome, Bobbi Steinbach

The choreography by Kelli Edwards does not disappoint. At first I thought it was going to be very toned down when the dance in To Life did not live up to my boyhood memories of seeing it performed by the Broadway touring company in the 60s. However, the bottle dance during the wedding scene was superb and had the audience clapping along as if they were participants. It is outstanding.

This is a production not to be missed. I would imagine tickets will be selling rapidly, so I would suggest you get yours soon. After seeing it I can guarantee you will leave the theater shouting L’chaim!

Photo credits: Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures

Fiddler On The Roof

Now though January 1st
New Rep Theatre
321 Arsenal Street, Watertown 617.923.8487


directed by Austin Pendleton

Charles Mosesian Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts

Watertown, MA

DECEMBER 2-24, 2016

1617_websliders_03-fiddlerNew Repertory Theatre presents Fiddler on the Roof, December 2-24, 2016 in the Charles Mosesian Theater at the Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA.

“Fiddler on the Roof has a much deserved place in the history of musical theatre,” says Artistic Director Jim Petosa. “It was first produced at a time when ideas of tradition and cultural identity were in an upheaval. It became a response to the transition that was happening in American culture and continues to resonate today as it examines the traditions of life, communities, and family.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome back to our stage so many New Rep favorites in our much- anticipated production of Fiddler on the Roof,” says Managing Director Harriet Sheets. “We’d also like to welcome back Austin Pendleton. While this is his first time directing for us, he is no stranger to our stage having appeared in Quills, Waiting for Godot, and King Lear. His play, Orson’s Shadow, also received its Boston-area premiere during our 2006-2007 season to resounding critical praise, and in 2015 we were honored to present him with New Rep’s Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement at our annual Gala.”

Jeremiah Kissel
Jeremiah Kissel

A spirited revival of the beloved musical, Fiddler on the Roof features Jeremiah Kissel (Broken Glass, The King of Second Avenue, Imagining Madoff) as Tevye, leading a cast of Boston-area favorites in this Tony Award-winning play. Rendered with striking intimacy and simplicity by Tony-nominated director Austin Pendleton, who originated the role of Motel the Tailor on Broadway, this energetic production puts the classic story’s fierce heart at the center of the audience experience with its timeless warmth, humor, and honesty.

Telephone: 617-923-8487, Online: newrep.org