The Ben Hecht Show | Piven Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge James Sherman

James Sherman

Don Vanasek

When: Fridays-Sundays. Continues through July 17 2016
Price: $35
grippostagecompany.com
What do you expect from a biographical solo show about a Chicago journalist who became one of the great Hollywood screenwriters, composing or contributing to such classics as The Front Page, Scarface, Stagecoach, Notorious, and Gone With the Wind? Probably 90 minutes of big-shoulder memories and back-lot gossip. But writer-performer James Sherman isn't much interested in that sort of thing. In this Grippo Stage Company production, his primary subjects are Ben Hecht's rediscovery of his Jewishness after decades of secularism, his crusade to save European Jews during the Holocaust, and his militant Zionism afterward. Activists like Shmaryahu Levin and Hayim Greenberg get far more attention than Alfred Hitchcock or Howard Hawks. I think Sherman must hope that Hecht's struggle will inform the current, troubled moment, in which Israel seems especially isolated and diaspora Jews especially embattled. If so, he needs a more pointed script and a less opaque title. One thing he needn't worry about: under Dennis Zacek's direction, Sherman gives excellent Hecht. —Tony Adler

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