We round up the reviews for the European premiere of Paula Vogel’s play now playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
The Guardian: **** “Indecent is a brainy play staged with the panache of a musical.”
British Theatre.com: ***** “You can see why, and why it will hit the Oliviers lists. It’s a delight, seething with life and feeling.”
London Theatre1: **** “An all-around excellent play, the design elements pay beautiful homage to old Jewish theatre traditions, and the Brechtian aesthetic brings to life what might otherwise be worlds apart. This play is very dear to my heart, and it was a joy to see it performed with so much love and talent.”
Exeunt Magazine: “On the one hand, Indecent joins the somewhat surprising current litany of Holocaust-adjacent plays interrogating prejudice and fascism and Jewish identity on major London stages—but it also asks questions about the theatre, about the morality of art, that feel perfectly pitched to the current moment.”
WhatsOnStage: **** “Vogel’s text, which could have been heavy, burdened by the weight of years, themes and anguish, is refreshingly endearing, fleet and humourous: the half-score company of actors and musicians (the line blurs frequently) are a whirligig of whimsy, multi-rolling across the time periods with a select few recurring figures denoted by simple props in Rebecca Taichman’s economic production, helped by wise choices courtesy of designer Riccardo Hernandez.”
London Theatre.co.uk: ***** “The production finds new value in the word “ensemble” in what is possibly the best acted Menier staging since Patrick Marber’s magnificent reclamation of Travesties five years ago. Every one of the cast deftly fields a dense play, with Molly Osborne and Alexandra Silber both in radiant form as the couple at often grievous odds with their surroundings.”
Evening Standard: *** “The arch theatricality of the acting may be a reference to the way things were done in Yiddish theatre, but alongside some clumsy, declamatory dialogue, it robs the play of power. I still found the story intriguing, though, and it’s great to have this eccentric, unpredictable venue back in action.”
The Independent: ***** “Paula Vogel’s play preserves and reinvigorates the legacy of one of the most scandalised plays of the 20th century.”
The Arts Desk: *** “An intriguing if flawed evening, boosted by ebullient ensemble work.”
Time Out: **** “But while it might feel a bit more exposed in a bigger, drier staging, Taichman’s intimate Menier production is pure magic, with an excellent, multinational, multitalented (lots of singing, lots of dancing, lots of playing of instruments), largely Jewish ensemble tearing joyously through the material, from an opening scene in which dust literally falls away from each actor as they tear the play back from the ashes of history, through a riotously sexy and absurd Berlin bit and on to the talkier US sections.”
The Times: **** “Embellished with lyrical klezmer music, the folk music of the shtetl, Indecent offers a captivating journey into the past, in a series of tableaux in which — until the shadows close in just before the end — satirical humour is never far from the surface. The script proceeds in vivid leaps, like a graphic novel, as it sketches the story of a play that created a scandal on Broadway in the 1920s.”
Broadway World: **** “What Taichman’s production does well is showcase so many different genres of performance; we bounce around the globe and watch the closing scene of the infamous piece play over and over again. This is because Vogel’s story doesn’t just revolve around the Broadway scandal, but the 70-plus-year history that surrounded its conception, growth and close. It allows us to understand the anguish, excitement and pain all involved must have felt – whilst also being a lot more exciting.”
Indecent continues to play at the Menier Chocolate Factory until the 27th November.