'South of Delancey' at Fremont Centre Theatre
South of Delancey, a new history inflected docu-drama play by Karen Sommers, is currently at Fremont Centre Theatre. Based on an actual 1940s rabbinical arbitration radio program, the play enacts real family crises from archival radio audio and imagined fictional back stories. South of Delancey features relatable characters, vintage audio, competent performers, and a period set that gives the audience a glimpse into the lives of three GI generation families living in New York's post-war Lower East Side.
The entire ensemble of South of Delancey gives strong, energized, and absorbing performances. The cast includes several standouts: Michael Rubenstone plays traumatized World War II veteran and abusive, philandering husband Marty with perceptive unpredictability. Rubenstone injects spurts of misdirected anger, angst, and violent confusion in to his role, bringing an undercurrent of tension to the stage. Rubenstone and Abigail Marks (playing Marty's wife, Faye) have uncommonly good stage chemistry together during their most intense and frightening scene. Marks's performance takes off during the second act, revealing a matured character that tries to remain positive despite embittered cynicism and disappointment. Kal Bennett gives a notable performance as Lenore, a stressed, lonely, and over-extended sister with a straining sibling rivalry. Bennett brings an interesting mix of dazed ferocity and animated instability to her role.
Direction by Sommers is smooth with gingerly paced transitions. Special attention is paid to period, New York, and Jewish cultural details. Incorporating segments of the radio show that South of Delancey is born out of is a fascinating historical touch that breathes significance into the play. Fight choreography by Jeff Lewis brings realism to the melodramatic plots. Warm antique set design by Dove Huntley, enviously beautiful vintage costuming by Lois Tedrow, and sound design by Grady Hutt lend historical authenticity.
South of Delancey is playing through June 26 Fremont Centre Theatre. Tickets are available online or via phone at 866-811-4111. Tickets are $20 to $25.