Burns and Murray Give Naches to Jonathan Epstein and New Stage for “The Jewish Jester” [Berkshire on Stage]

Robert D. Lohbauer (l) and Jonathan Epstein in “The Jewish Jester: A Fable With Music.”
Robert D. Lohbauer (l) and Jonathan Epstein in “The Jewish Jester: A Fable With Music.”

Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray

Gail Burns: I didn’t know quite what to expect from “The Jewish Jester: A Fable With Music,” but with Jonathan Epstein in the leading role, how can you go wrong…

Larry Murray: He may be the lowly servant of the king in this play, but he’s also its star. Between Epstein and Robert Lohbauer, his co-star, it’s a pretty dynamic duo on stage, making a great evening entertainment out of a bit of a mushy play. Its advance publicity pointed out that it is a combination of Elizabethan English and Yiddish, but that is only the tip of the Word Play iceberg. It’s also puns, physical comedy and role reversals.

Gail: I was confused as the dialogue is sometimes Elizabethan, sometimes modern, sometimes in verse, sometimes in prose. I wanted to get my hands on a script to clarify playwright Daniel Klein’s rhyme and reason, but that is one of those perks the press can access that the average ticket-buyer can’t. No one should have waste time in the theater trying to figure out what the playwright is up to structurally.

Larry: As to the play itself, it’s like a sweet tsholnt, a Jewish stew that has been simmering for a long time. Some meshuggener (slightly crazy guy) named Daniel Klein put this concoction together. He’s the guy who wrote (with Thomas Cathcart) “Plato and a Platypus Walked into a Bar.” It takes a creative imagination to come up with a nudnik Jewish Jester and condemned King sharing the same jail cell, yet the whole megillah comes together at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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