If I Forget is another triumph for the venerable Fountain Theatre. Referred to as a comedy, the laughs come frequently but more because the situations are so relatable in the genre of family dynamics. The banter is fast, and it doesn't take long for the story to evolve.
The excellent cast and superb direction provide a most satisfying and memorable theatre experience. Playwright Steven Levenson (Tick Tick Boom! screenplay and the book for the musical Dear Evan Hansen) masterfully weaves an interesting historical premise within the family context. Director Jason Alexander (in his words) gives us a play that "is filled with wisdom, hope, ignorance, and despair. And laughter. Because there is always laughter in the darkest places."
Each cast member is perfectly on point. Jittery professor Michael Fischer (Leo Marks), the son whose recently completed book is causing quite a stir, his wife Ellen (Sile Bermingham) attempting to put an optimistic spin on concerns about their daughter to the two sisters have come home to help their father celebrate his 75th birthday.
Sister Holly (Valerie Perri) doesn't know how to leave well enough alone and sister Sharon (Samantha Klein) is more than the "good" caretaker sister. The occasional apparition of Abby Fischer, interpretively danced by Caribay Franke, Michael and Ellen's daughter, we learn all is not "fine" as mom would like all to believe. Set in the months before 9/11, with Palestine and Israel were in great conflict, the family's religious connection to their Jewishness is more by birth than by practice.
Holly's husband, Howard (Jerry Weil) has a few surprises of his own and their son Joey (Jacob Zelonky) portrays all the foibles of a 13-year-old. The dialogue is fast and entertaining. The cast extraordinary. As the play unfolds, complexities of relationships and what it means to be Jewish in 21 st century America is challenged and dissected.
In the second act, Michael's book "Forget the Holocaust" is challenged as his father, sensitively played by Matt Gottlieb, shares his experience as an American soldier who liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp. It is clear that he will never forget it.
If I Forget
is a play you won't forget. The standing ovation at curtain was well-deserved.