"The Face in the Reeds," now in its run at the Ruskin Group Theatre, tells the timeless story and reenactment of the exodus from Egypt in all its glory, in a Seder that is anything but traditional, celebrated by a dysfunctional Jewish family (but aren't they all?). The father, Barry (Chip Bolick); his wife, newly converted, Christina (Stacey Moseley); son Mose, about to become Bar Mitzvah (Aidan Blain); daughter, 'the wise child,' Rachel (Julia Arian); and grandfather Sol (Paul Zegler), along with the requisite guest/ the stranger among us, Patrick (Tom Berklund), gather together. The story begins, innocently and benign enough, with Christina eager to celebrate her first 'official' Seder, in complete order, as the name Seder means. Barry wishes to find an eligible suitor for his renegade daughter Rachel, though not the typical Tevye matchmaker kind of deal. She is outgoing, a radical of sorts, a card carrying member of PETA, and introduces the family to modern feminist rituals, such as an orange on the seder plate, in recognition of GLBT rights; and Miriam's cup, honoring the matriarchs and heroines of the Bible. Her input brings an exploration of pro-gender equality and new takes on the Seder traditions.
The father, an OB/GYN by practice, invites his intern Patrick to the feast, as a potential match for Rachel, and also upon request of grandfather Sol, who also has an ulterior motive. The grandfather, a rotund, yet feisty character, is a definite standout comic figure, as he wheels around the stage, and at any given moment, yearns to take a 'medical marijuana break,' and take a toke or two. The mother, Christina, is the 2nd wife to Barry, a new 'member of the tribe,' who has become meticulous in following the religion and takes the holiday of Passover quite seriously. The son, about to turn 13 (incidentally, as well as in real life), whose name is Mose, is the central reason for the play's title. He is quite the mouthpiece for the playwright Robin Uriel Russin, with many a poignant and profound monologue throughout. He provides ironic commenataries on the holiday, which he has learned from his revered Rabbi Cohen, whom grandfather Sol deems a 'crackpot philosopher.' One sub-theme of the play is the young woman, Rachel, ready to declare that she is coming out as a lesbian, only to find herself enthralled and physically attracted to Patrick, and thinks better of it. The grandfather has a motive for Patrick as well, wishing for him to perform euthanasia to take him out of his misery, with stage 4 cancer. Subjects once taboo for theatre, i.e homosexuality, conversion, euthanasia, are all at the forefront of this play. The final scene is quite powerful... When Mose speaks... people listen.. His words are filled with passion, wit, sensitivity, and truly get to the heart and soul of one family, and one night, much different from all other nights, where each family member finally tries to connect and understand one another. On this night, secrets are revealed, barriers and boundaries broken, replete with cliches, caricatures, family resentment; an excruciatingly funny look at perhaps the world's most dysfunctional seder.
Through October 11, 2014
Fridays & Saturdays 8PM Sundays 2PM
Ruskin Group Theatre 3000 Airport Avenue Santa Monica
For reservations: (310) 397-3244