By Paul Atreides
Author, playwright, and Theatre critic at EatMoreArtVegas.com
What is “indecent?” According to Oxford: Indecent: inˈdēs(ə)nt/ adjective, not conforming with generally accepted standards of behavior or propriety; obscene. i.e., "the film was grossly indecent.”
But it’s a matter of perspective. In the case of the Tony Award-nominated play Indecent by Paula Vogel, it’s about all manner of things. First and foremost, it’s a true story about God of Vengeance, a little Yiddish play written in the early 1900s by Sholem Asch, which found acclaim throughout Europe. Then, it was ruled indecent, obscene, and immoral by a judge in the U.S. in 1923.
Presenting Indecent right now couldn’t be more perfect timing. Look at the state of things playing out not only here in the U.S. but around the world. Because the play has serious undercurrents; it’s about LGBTQ+, it’s about anti-Semitism, it’s about injustice, it’s about man’s inhumanity to man.
Yet, as produced by A Public Fit and directed by Ann-Marie Pereth and Joseph D. Kucan, this Indecent is nothing short of stunning. On a stage that takes on multiple locations—from homes to theatres to courtrooms from Warsaw to Berlin to the Bowery, a very talented ensemble cast takes on a multitude of roles. Dialects are spot-on and consistent, and each character is unique.
While this is not a musical, it is a play with music and live musicians, and the cast sings and dances in the play-within-the-play (mostly). That would point to the only production gripe, as minuscule as possible. Acoustics changed when a theatre filled up, and opening night was SRO. There were moments when the musicians played, and the cast sang as an actor delivered lines which don’t make it to the back row.
Kendra Faith’s costumes and Tracey Allyn’s choreography under Ellen Bone’s lighting make everything coalesce as the play traverses over a fifty-year timeframe.
If a theatre company is going to have legs, it must establish a niche and find its unique corner of the market. I’m reminded of Theatre Exposed in the 1980s, which produced a range of works no one else would touch but found it difficult to gain an audience in a young city. Las Vegas has begun to grow up and it is heartening to see A Public Fit, now in its 10th season, filling that gap, consistently producing excellence, and bringing in patrons.
This is an absolute must-see. In fact, it would be quite indecent behavior to miss this.
When: 7 p.m. Friday - Monday; 2 p.m. Sundays through November 20
Where: 4340 S. Valley View Blvd, Suite 210
Tickets: $35 to $40
Grade: ***** Irresistible
Producer: A Public Fit; Artistic Director: Ann-Marie Pereth; Producing Director: Joseph D. Kucan; Directors: Ann-Marie Pereth, Joseph D. Kucan; Choreography: Tracey Allyn; Set Design: Whitney Lehn Meltz; Lighting Design: Ellen Bone; Sound Design: Constance Taschner; Costume Design: Kendra Faith; Production Stage Manager: Brandi Blackman