Mark Bretz viewed 124 productions on local stages in 2019, including professional, community and college presentations, and chose Max & Louie’s production of Indecent as the #1 production of 2019.
#1. Indecent at Max & Louie Productions. Paula Vogel’s drama focuses on the story behind the play, Got fun Nikome (The God of Vengeance), written by Polish-Jewish writer Sholem Asch and later performed in 1906 in Berlin. Advised by acclaimed Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz to burn his manuscript because it includes a lesbian love scene and a character throwing the Torah to the floor in anger, Asch instead sees it performed throughout Europe before taking it to America. A Yiddish production in New York City in 1907 is called “immoral” and “indecent” by several Yiddish newspapers. Eventually God of Vengeance appears on Broadway in 1923. Later, Asch’s troupe continues to perform it in Europe even under the growing threat of Nazi Germany.
The St. Louis premiere of Vogel’s taut, searing and beautifully written drama about “the true story of the little Jewish play” was brilliantly staged and performed in Max & Louie Productions’ presentation. Director Joanne Gordon shrewdly utilized every theatrical facet available to her in a riveting and mesmerizing production, an ensemble effort in the best sense. The company’s rendition of Indecent was both an intellectual and emotional achievement of the highest rank, a penetrating look at how art can survive even in the most savage of times.