Knowing the Right Words to Say… in “It’s A Life”

Death and dying are subjects quite sensitive to bring to the stage, yet Jewish Women’s Theatre, under the artistic direction of Ronda Spinak, brings this delicate subject alive in “It’s A Life.” The audience can’t help but revel in the beauty and wisdom of the poetic, heart-tugging words written and performed. The talented ensemble, featuring Arva Rose, Charlotte Evelyn Williams, Harris Shore, and Lisa Robins, presents gorgeous lamentations and memories (“a mix of happy and sad,” noted one audience member), to honor those who have left us. Under the exquisite direction of Shelly Goldstein and Susan Morgenstern, stories about ‘the dead dads club…a female chaplain; random white feathers…& Chevra Kadisha” are each one more profound than the next, stirring our souls. Just as the Kaddish prayer is for the living and the mourning, these writers have found a cathartic way to express their loss over their loved ones. The show features vignettes, on relationships ranging from daughter/father to grandfather (Zayde) to mother, sister, friend. With themes quite universal, many an audience member, with tissue in hand, relates deeply. One cannot help but hear the words and visualize/feel a connection to a story and internalize it. The show is truly about memory, grief, loss, and mourning, but also a search for grace and empowerment. Death and dying (much like cancer, ‘the C word,’) were once only whispered or not even discussed at all. The JWT ensemble so beautifully and artistically portrays tough situations and ordeals, revealing a most touching, delicate side of one of the most important events of the Jewish lifecycle. One act that truly resonated with me was “Feathers,” written by Olivia Goodkin, and performed by Lisa Robins. In my own life, white feathers have appeared at the most random of places, right when I’ve needed them most, clearly a sign from guardian angels above. This show allows the audience to experience the full roller coaster of emotions, from laughter to sadness, much like the theme of “Sunrise Sunset,” where our years are “…laden with happiness and tears.” “Last Mitzvah,” written by Lisa Rosenbaum, and hauntingly performed by Charlotte Evelyn Williams, Arva Rose, and Lisa Robins is a touching, intimate look at the Chevra Kadisha Burial society, performing the greatest, most loving and thankless of mitzvot, watching over the dead, with intricate, visceral details such as cleansing hair and body with vinegar and mayo. The song “L’dor v’dor,” led by Harris Shore, emphasizes the inter-connection from one generation to another, from sun up til the sun goes down, with life the journey and death the destination. “Cyber Obit,” written by Ellen Switkes, and performed by Arva Rose and ensemble, is quite timely, in the age of social media prevalence, and how an obituary goes viral through the Associated Press, and how the writer’s loved one truly gets a send off with the ‘last hurrah.’ As one audience member poignantly stated during the after show q&a, “these real life (and death) stories can either rally us together or make us fall apart.” The hope is to talk, live, laugh, learn, and grow from them. “From strength to strength.”

It’s A Life
Through March 28th
http://www.jewishwomenstheatre.org
(310)315-1400

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About Bonnie Priever Curtain Up!

I am a theatre reviewer extraordinairre. I attend and cover theatres ranging from large to small venues, and every subject from musical theatre to dramatic presentations. Also please check out my reviews at www.examiner.com and www.tolucantimes.com my email is bonniedeb13@hotmail.com
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