Isaac Babel & the Black Sea - Theatre Review

By Harrison Held

Austin Iredale
Photo by Jamale Abou Hamad
"Isaac Babel & the Black Sea" is a very deep and profound dramatic piece based on the life of celebrated Russian Jewish author Isaac Babel, now playing at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood.

The original play is well directed by talented playwright/director Timothy McNeil who work shopped the production a few years ago at the theatre. The acting by all is thoroughly excellent and authentic and the play's production values are seamlessly produced by Kinjal Dave and the Stella Adler Academy Lab Theatre.

Isaac Babel's short life spanned the birth of the Soviet Union through the Stalin era. He was born into bleak poverty but had an inane zest and hunger for life and a brilliantly rich imagination that sustained him through heartbreak and the harshest of times. In the hands of his captors, he endured unspeakable torture.

The cast is excellent, the accents are great. Bradley Wayne James is terrific as Isaac Babel and transforms very believably back and forth from child to teen to adult. Ted Celigo and Owen Conway are wonderful as the menacing captors Kuleshov and Schwarzmann. Austin Iredale shines as the ignorant alcoholic Prishepa. Soulful Alex Aves is lovely and plaintive as Isaac's lover, Antonina. Bonnie McNeil hits the mark as bewildered Jewish matriarch Feiga. Maia Nikiphoroff is very good as the pragmatic prostitute Margarita.  Marina Zoreva is poignant as Anna, Trang Le great as little sister Miriam. Adding their talents to the show are Tony Gatto, Andrew Garrett, Kelly O'Malley and Jake Sidney Cohen who sang in Hebrew beautifully.

The play is very moving and educational. Having relatives of Russian Jewish descent, it struck many chords how rough life was living in that era and how very grateful I am that my beloved Great Great Aunt Rebecca Zuckerman came to America and brought over her nieces one at a time to "The New World" for a better life.

Catch this poignat multi-layered gem during it's last week at the Stella Adler Theatre. Note there are some rough, hard-to-watch rape and torture scenes.

Posted By Discover Hollywood on March 05, 2018 01:12 pm | Permalink