Last night I saw this brilliant performance at the Pacific Theatre, this moving story had the audience focussed on the 3 actors who played multiple characters.
It is a story based on a Hasidic Jewish family who lived in Brooklyn, NY; Asher is a part of a tradition that values family, and has seen the families of it’s people torn apart drawing their tattered remnants together in it’s wake. It is a tradition that has a very pragmatic and tangible mission in the world – a mission of cultural, religious and familial restoration. Asher Lev’s home is caught up in that mission.
Chaim Potok has created an intimate tale that crystalizes the difficulty of making one’s way in the world when the vocation that calls to a young person differs from the expectations of one’s parents and community. In one way or another, that struggle has been happening in homes for generations, and across cultural boundaries. The tone of the arguments is familiar, even if the details of the conflict are different. It would be easy to focus on the romantic notion of the leaving of family, liberating oneself to become all one can be. Potok doesn’t let his characters off that easily. Anything or anyone that ever mattered in our lives will require more from us than we think we can actually give. In this story, Asher Lev’s gift requires everything.
Asher begins to draw at a very young age, his father has been against his hobby since day one, over the years Asher becomes more sophisticated with his drawing and in his teenage years, he becomes a student of a well-known painter. He then paints The Brooklyn Crucifixions, and the reaction of his Orthodox community forces a terrible decision — between family and vocation, between his love for God and his desperate need to make art. A poignant coming of age story, as intimate as a family dinner and as vast as a young man’s dreams. Heartbreaking, triumphant.
Director: Morris Ertman.
Featuring: Katharine Venour, Giovanni Mocibob, and Nathan Schmidt
Now playing at the Pacific Theatre in Vancouver through February 26th!