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NY1 Theater Review: "The Hatmaker's Wife"

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The play "The Hatmaker's Wife" marks the latest work by the not-for-profit The Playwrights Realm, an organization dedicated to supporting up-and-coming playwrights. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

Playwright Lauren Yee takes an unexpected detour into Jewish folklore with the creation of "The Hatmaker's Wife". It's a messy, self-consciously whimsical work that aims for the heart. And if it misses more than it hits, I will say the excellent veterans in the cast supply much of the play's desired magic.

The story involves a young woman who moves into a suburban house with her boyfriend, only to discover the walls talk and pieces of paper mysteriously drop down with installments of a story about a self-centered hatmaker and his long-suffering wife.

As the woman reads, we learn that Hetchman seems to care more about his hats than anything else, and his unhappy wife decides to leave him. Steeped in misery and ignoring his well-meaning friend Meckel, the hatmaker conjures up a Golem, a monster that supplies memories in the form of lighted jars. The unnamed young woman is fascinated by the story and as she's drawn in, she neglects her own relationship. Later we discover a deeper connection between the three.

The folk tale concept is an interesting one but the execution is muddy. The simplistic language and talking wall, featuring a jaunty Russian accent are right out of children's theatre. Yet the themes concerning the nature of family, love, identity and home are very much adult. It would take some very shrewd direction to pull this off effectively and that's not the case here.

Fortunately, there's David Margulies, Marcia Jean Kurtz and Peter Friedman to bridge the stylistic gaps. They bring out the story's sweet spots through sheer force of character and talent.

"The Hatmaker's Wife" is a promising work that needs more development. It brought to mind Fiddler On The Roof's poignant number "Do You Love Me". That one song featured more emotion and wisdom than all 90 minutes of this ambitious yet uneven play.

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