The latest show from the writer of "Dear Evan Hansen" opens at the Roundabout Theatre Company Wednesday night. Here's NY1 theater critic Roma Torre with her review of "If I Forget."
Steven Levenson is on quite a roll. The young playwright is winning raves for his libretto of "Dear Evan Hansen." And now audiences are treated to a new work entitled "If I Forget." It's a deeply absorbing, issues-oriented family drama that's likely to hit a nerve in both head and heart.
Like so many bickering family members, the Fischers have very different ideas about religion and its place in society. Michael is a Jewish Studies professor who's come to the radical notion that Jews need to move on from the Holocaust, and he's written a controversial book about it.
His siblings and father are appalled, saying it's offensive to their Jewish heritage. That's just one conflict that's rankling the family. At the same time, they're grappling with elder care for the aging patriarch and financial problems need to be worked out.
Levenson captures the family dynamic with great ease. The dialogue is fluid and intelligent; and he manages to slip in some pointed laughs along the way.
Daniel Sullivan is the ideal director for the work. He's a master at balancing heavy drama with lighter moments.
And thanks to a flawless ensemble on that terrific rotating 2-tiered set, we're hooked from the very first scene right through to the bitter end.
Kate Walsh and Maria Dizzia carve out very distinct personalities as sisters who get under each other's skins — and ours.
Tasha Lawrence and Gary Wilmes find great nuance in that sticky grey area occupied by spouses in messy family gatherings.
Young Seth Steinberg makes an impressive NY debut as an empathetic high-school schlub.
As his grandfather, Larry Bryggman once again turns in excellent work.
And Jeremy Shamos never disappoints. He makes this determined academic on a suicidal mission seem heroic — and it is a phenomenal performance.
There aren't many plays that can twist your head around 180 degrees. But this one does, and most convincingly. It's a tad overstuffed with plot threads, but I happily hung on to every one of them.