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    Complete archive, 1999-present

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      God of Vengeance
    Virgin territory

    Deep within this former den of sin is something shocking — legitimate theater has moved in, featuring a classic Yiddish drama with a special meaning in the shiny new Times Square.


    "No Live Girls!" proclaim several signs as you enter the Show World Theater — the perfect opposite of the pitch you would have gotten there a few months ago. And it's not even true.

    Written by: Sholom Asch.
    Directed by: Aaron Beall.
    Cast: Mark Greenfield, Andrea Darriau, Vered Hankin, Caraid O'Brien, Elizabeth Gondek, Mercedes McAndrew, Naomi Odes, Corey Carthew, David M. Pincus, Shane Baker, Kelly Nolan, Tanya Krohn.
    Translated by Caraid O'Brien.

    Related links: Official site
    Up the stairs you go, through two now-empty antechambers and past a mystery stairwell, opening into a large room done in garish red and black diamonds and mirrored tiles.

    The milieu — looking as if it was decorated collaboratively by an old carnival hand and the devil — leaves to your wildest imagination the things that used to go on in this space before the mayor shut down the Times Square sex shops. While you wait, you may sit in a plastic patio chair or even play a round of pool. Finally, you are permitted to pass through a black curtain in the back wall into a mystery chamber within. That's where the girls are.

      Vered Hankin in God of Vengeance
      Vered Hankin
    And what naughty girls they are — because what you are about to experience is not a bawdy nude sex romp but a legitimate play about a loving father, his angelic daughter, and a whorehouse.

    The play is "God of Vengeance," presented by the same people who run the downtown fixtures Todo con Nada and the Piano Store and are now taking advantage of the lack of more traditional entertainment at Show World on Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street.

    This new translation of Sholom Asch's 1907 drama finds Yankl in a dilemma: He's running a prostitution ring downstairs while trying to maintain a nice, virtuous Jewish family upstairs. Never, ever, is his lovely daughter Rivka (Rivkeleh, familiarly, played by Vered Hankin) to consort with the fallen women in the house of sin below. But you know how adolescents are — Rivka's best friend is a prostitute named Mankeh (Elizabeth Gondek), whom she sneaks off to see whenever possible.

    Elizabeth Gondek in God of Vengeance  
    Elizabeth Gondek
    Yankl's plan is to redeem his daughter by having a Torah scroll handwritten (one of the most honorable achievements for a Jew who can afford it) and sent with her to some respectable and marriageable young scholar along with some cash in a nice package deal. The local rabbi knows how to work both sides of the street, and is willing to overlook the sullied source of the money if it results in donations and more Torah scrolls.

    But you know there has to be a catch, and of course it's the pure, sheltered Rivka. True, her virtue has been shielded from the men, but daddy forgot about the fetching Mankeh downstairs, who leads Rivka into a temptation so shocking that her parents never dreamed of it.

    Continued: 1 | 2 | Next

    DECEMBER 7, 1999

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