Best Theater Surprise

God of Vengeance

Theater magic can strike in the unlikeliest places. Last January, it struck in a synagogue on Kingshighway, at a staged reading of an obscure Yiddish play, jointly sponsored by City Players and the New Jewish Theatre. When Sholem Asch's God of Vengeance was produced on Broadway in 1923, this drama about a brothel operator whose virginal daughter is seduced by one of her father's prostitutes was promptly shuttered on the grounds of immorality. Although in Europe the play was deemed a classic, in this country it was promptly forgotten. Only now, nearly 80 years later, is it being rediscovered. Because God of Vengeance is a parable about purity, the staged-reading format was a refreshing reminder that in its purest form, theater is still a listening experience. The play was produced in tandem with a second script, The People vs. The God of Vengeance, whose text was drawn from the New York obscenity-trial transcript. Both evenings made for memorable, thought-provoking theater.

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