I'm Not Rappaport | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

I'm Not Rappaport 

Stage Actors Ensemble

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

I'M NOT RAPPAPORT, Stage Actors Ensemble. Having seen many pictures of Judd Hirsh and Garrett Morris in bad makeup on a park bench when Herb Gardner's bittersweet drama of octogenarians was doing boffo box office back in the 80s, I always assumed this was a two-character play. I was wrong, but only sort of: it should have been a two-character play. Despite Gardner's tendency to stereotype, his occasionally infuriating paternalism, and his facile moral tone, when he focuses on the growing friendship between Nat, wild-eyed Jewish socialist, and Midge, complacent black building manager, the play sparkles.

In this Stage Actors Ensemble production Kenneth Johnson offers a flawless performance as Midge, giving the character humor and dignity. Bob Maram as Nat hits a few false notes, but what he lacks in technical skill he makes up for with genuine compassion and pathos. This staging falters, unfortunately, just where Gardner's script does - in the characters and plot devices surrounding the two leads. Although these characters - an insensitive WASPish type, Nat's overprotective daughter, a bullying Irish hoodlum, and a menacing drug dealer - do raise significant issues confronting the elderly, they're so cartoonish they seem written for a lamebrain George Burns vehicle. And the unconvincing performances director David Mason coaxes from his cast for these characters bring the show to a halt. Only when Johnson and Maram sit alone for the poignant coda does the play come close to recovering.

--Adam Langer

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Adam Langer

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Bernhardt/Hamlet Goodman Theatre
September 14
Performing Arts
His Shadow 16th Street Theater, Berwyn Cultural Center
September 05

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories