APPLE CORE THEATER COMPANY (ACTC) is pleased to present the world premiere production of Israeli-American playwright, Ken Kaissar's new satire - A MODEST SUGGESTION. Directed by Walter J. Hoffman, A MODEST SUGGESTION is in the midst of a limited engagement at the Studio Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street, between 9th/10th). Performances continue through Sunday, May 27.
A MODEST SUGGESTION opens upon an anonymous conference room in an anonymous city. Your "typical" group of businessmen (perhaps advertising executives) discusses items on their agenda. A MODEST SUGGESTION asks why does racism and anti-Semitism exist. It asks what does it mean to be Jewish. How does racism turn into violence? And most importantly, do Jews actually eat bacon?
The production features scenic design by JarEd Rutherford, costume design by David L. Zwiers and lighting design by Jordan Acosta. The production on a whole was clean, simple and allowed the piece to speak for itself. If I could find any weakness in the technical aspects of the show, the light cues seemed very slow and out of sync with the sound cues the night I was there. When a show is eighty minutes long, that tends to slow the show down and become very noticeable.
ACTC sets a goal to inspire honest, thought-provoking discussions around these difficult topics, as well as make you laugh. A MODEST SUGGESTION sets a solid foundation to make that happen. It's undeniable that Kaissar is writing this piece in the spirit of Samuel Beckett, whose "Waiting for Godot" is probably the most thought provoking piece of modern theatre and comedy ever written. Nonetheless, I feel that unlike Beckett, Kaissar gets very heavy-handed and at some point preachy. I wish he had given the audience a bit more credit, to sit back and let us do the work.
I thought the smartest part of A MODEST SUGGESTION was the scene that involved Adam Miller, played lovely by Ethan Hova (The further Adventures of Hedda Gabler). It gave me high hopes, for it was in that scene that I really felt Kaissar was getting down to the nitty gritty of the cult of ignorance and how it breeds violence. Unfortunately, that high point only magnified my disappointment in an ending I felt came far too easy. The production also stars Jeff Auer (ACTC's As Is), Bob Greenberg (The Jazz Singer), Russell Jordan (Beirut), Jonathan Marballi (Upright Citizens Brigade) and Robert W. Smith (Boy Gets Girl).
If I was in the boardroom, I would pass on A MODEST SUGGESTION. Still, I recommend you make the judgment call. I love a good debate.
A MODEST SUGGESTION plays a regular schedule through Sunday, May 27. This includes performances Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 8 p.m., Thursdays at 8 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available online at www.telecharge.com or by calling 212-239-6200. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Theatre Row Box Office. For further information on ACTC, check out their website at: www.applecoretheatercompany.org.