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