Going East Towards Home

Credit: Jonathan Slaff

Credit: Jonathan Slaff

Billy Yalowitz, writer and actor who plays his older self does it all.  He plays guitar, sings, and moves like a trained dancer. We follow him through his life in search of an answer.  He is joined by three other actors.  David  Kreminitzer, who plays the younger Billy, more exuberantly than I imagined the real Billy.  Brian Gunter, who believably plays Woody Guthrie. He has a wonderful singing voice, and thankfully we understand each word.  And one female, Eleanor Reissa who plays several characters; from a young politically motivated dancer to an older communist explaining old times.  She also sings,  speaks fluent Yiddish, and constantly charms us.  If I were a casting agent I’d hire her for every role!   The sequences where she leads the cast in a variety of dances is fun and uplifting.
Billy’s parents and grandparents were active participants in the Jewish left.  He was a “red diaper baby”.  He was raised in housing created by the ladies garment workers union.  He attended camps and a summer colony with of like minds.  They had a clear fight whose time has past.  Billy has many of their values; concern for the workers, importance of a community of activists.  However, he does not want to follow this path in New York.  His hero is Woody Guthrie and he hitch hikes across America to find him.  The play includes many Woody songs.
He also takes us back to his childhood.  He was an active athlete.  He tells us “they’re weren’t many Jews in Little League”.  Here he experiences anti-semitism, from the boys who lived across the street in the projects.  It’s not clear how that impacted him and his choices.  At the end of his travels he returns east to New York to form his alliances at home.  He has a conversation with the older neighbor woman.  He points out the failures of the communist movement.  He refers to people having to follow strict party lines, i.e. put aside being a Jew.  He points out the actions of Stalin.  She acknowledges the diappointments.  He asks; “then why fight ?”  and she answers, “it’s complicated”.  And so it is, he is left to pursue humanist socialism.
This play covers a time we might forget and there is much to remember.  There is so much of importance to say.  But,
for me it’s too much to squeeze into 90 minutes without intermission.
Written by: Billy Yalowitz   Director:  David Schechter  Choreography: Michael Raine
Cast:  Brian Gunter, David Kremenitzer, Eleanor Reissa, Billy Yalowitz
Location:  Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue
Tuesdays through Saturdays.  $15.  general admission  For info and tickets:  212 254 1109
Taffy Jaffe

Author: Taffy Jaffe

Taffy Jaffe has worked as a stand up comic, and monologist. She began her stage career performing original stand up and sketch comedy with "Hot Peaches", a political cabaret group, both in New York and London. She has also appeared in "The First Radical Humor Festival", "Women in Humor Conference", twice in Ensemble Studio Theater's "October Fest", "The Liar's Show", Tommy Pryor's "From Stoop to Nuts", The Metropolitan Room, "Ultra Vixen's" at Reno Sweeney's. She regularly appears at Cornelia Street Cafe's "Monologues and Madness", and the Duplex. She has produced and performed her own revues, featuring Joy Behar: "Rush Job", "Sanity Fare", "Party Line Revue" . These revues were also performed at benefits for "Association for Artist Therapists", The Marxist School, and the "Majority Report" newspaper. She also produced and performed several revues "Let's Talk Dirty" at the Cornelia Street Cafe. She has told her stories at The Moth, and her lines were broadcast on their radio program. She is thrilled to be writing theater reviews, her first love.

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