`Kvetch': British-Yiddish satire
Kvetch Comedy by Steven Berkoff. Directed by the author. ``Kvetch,'' the absurdist satire at the Westside Arts Theater (Downstairs), borrows its title from a Yiddishism meaning roughly to grumble...complain...fret ...fuss. For British playwright Steven Berkoff, it also covers ``anything that tends to change the control one ordinarily has over one's body and emotions'' - in this case producing the Angst and insecurity of its characters. Mr. Berkoff's ``uncommon comedy'' offers more kvetches than you could shake a schtick at. The emotions are raw and so is the language.Skip to next paragraph
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By the end of two sketchy acts, Donna (Laura Esterman) has left querulous husband Frank (Kurt Fuller) for George (Hy Anzell), one of Frank's customers. Frank's love life has degenerated into a homosexual relationship with Hal (Mitch Kreindel), the flustered dinner guest of the opening scene. The urban American domestic m'enage also includes Frank's unwelcome mother-in-law (Ruth Jaroslow). A less congenial clutch of characters would be difficult to imagine. Or is that critical kvetching?
Besides its explicitness and Yiddish colloqualisms, the dialogue makes adroit use of a stream of asides in which the characters express their inner feelings. These are bound up with the fear which Berkoff has explained that ``Kvetch'' is all about. But fear without the antidote of compassion is a bleak prospect.
The author has served as his own director of a performance that matches his hard-edged writing. Designer Don Llewellyn's starkly furnished stage is adorned by a backwall mural of a wild expressway to anywhere. The production was lighted by Jason Kantrowitz and costumed by Ruth A. Brown.