Talk about a delayed thrill: Paula Vogel's lauded play Indecent was primed for its British debut at the Menier Chocolate Factory back in March 2020, when the curtains came down across theatreland. So here it finally is, directed as in New York by Tony winner Rebecca Taichman but even more immediately powerful and moving than I remember from its Vineyard Theatre iteration. (The subsequent Broadway transfer won an additional Tony for Christopher Akerlind's lighting, which is no less virtuosic...
Rather than being a play-in-a-play, Indecent dramatises the stories that surrounded a play’s opening over a century ago. Opinions have changed and viewpoints have shifted, but was Indecent an immoral take on society, or just ahead of its time.
In 1906, Polish-Jewish playwright Sholem Asch began writing The God of Vengeance, a Jewish drama about a brothel owner who wanted to marry off his daughter. During the play, scenes of a sordid nature take place, which had early twentieth-century audiences up in arms. Could The God of Vengeance be a work of religious defamation? Even though the play had its critics, it was Broadway-bound, making its US premiere in 1923. But when a theatre owner was convicted, the future of The God of Vengeance and indeed what could be told on stage became a court matter.
This is where the Indecent play steps in to continue the narrative. Debating whether The God of Vengeance is a piece of Jewish culture or traitorous libel, Paula Vogel’s drama tells the lives of those who risked their careers for the performing arts.
Rebecca Taichmann directs Indecent in London. Taichmann directed Indecent on Broadway, and won a Tony Award for her direction. A small klezmer band, playing traditional music of the Ashkenazi Jews, will play live music during Indecent. Original music in Indecent is by Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva.
Indecent was on Broadway in 2017, and was subsequently nominated for three Tonys. In an Indecent review for New York Theatre Guide, Michael Hillyer said: “Proudly Jewish and self-consciously theatrical… Mss. Vogel and Taichman work their transporting magic in plain sight… Indecent is pretty much just three boards, two actors, and one magnificent, transcendent passion.”
It’s coincidental that a play about a play which was argued about could have been stopped in London. But that’s what happened to Indecent. Indecent in London was due to open at the Menier Chocolate Factory in March 2020. However it was forced to suspend performances for 18 months due to the pandemic.
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Cast and creative
By: Paula Vogel
Songs by: Lisa Gutkin & Aaron Halva
Director: Rebecca Taichman
Cast list: Peter Polycarpou, Cory English, Beverley Klein, Finbar Lynch, Molly Osborne, Alexandra Silber, Joseph Timms, Merlin Shepherd, Anna Lowenstein and Josh Middleton
Design: Riccardo Hernandez
Lighting: Christopher Akerlind
Costume: Emily Rebholz
Choreography: David Dorfman
Sound: Matt Hubbs
Latest Indecent News & Features
After previews of Indecent at the Menier Chocolate Factory were forced to stop due to the pandemic, Paula Vogel's Tony-nominated play returns to London. The Menier Chocolate Factory will reopen in September, with three productions confirmed across two spaces.Speaking about the Menier's reopening, artistic director David Babani said: "Indecent was days into previews when we had to shut down in March last year, and we were determined to reunite our brilliant company of actors and share Rebecca's...
Following critically-acclaimed performances on Broadway in 2017, Indecent will receive a London transfer later this year. Written by Paula Vogel and directed by Rebecca Taichman, Indecent will be performed at the Menier Chocolate Factory from March 2020.Indecent at the Menier Chocolate FactoryIn a tweet by Baz Bamigboye, Indecent will make its London debut at the Menier Chocolate Factory, as part of the new season at the theatre. Rebecca Taichman will direct the London production, having won a...