Monday, March 09, 2009

“Upside Down, Inside Out”
Storahtelling Purim Shpiel at Temple Beth El in Stamford, CT

Saturday, March 7th, 2009
By Justin Wedes

Everybody loves a good Purim shpiel. It is the one time of the year when Jews everywhere can rejoice in the wondrous art of duplicity, embodied in the story of Esther’s deception- and subsequent confession- before King Achasverosh. This year, Storahtelling sent its Shpielers simultaneously to New Orleans and Stamford, CT, and what follows is a report from the northern front:

A fanciful shpiel calls for a fancifully fearless troupe, and so it was with this production, entitled ‘Upside Down, Inside Out’. Leading the story was MC Jake Goodman, accompanied by fellow Maven and shape-shifting actress extraordinaire Megan Sass. Musician Channa Rothman served as the light-hearted link between Maven and music, assisted by accordio-pianist Justin Wedes (myself). Temple Beth El of Stamford provided the shpiel with liturgical wings, in the form of Cantor Rachael Littman, whose readings from the Book of Esther- all in shifting costume- enchanted the Shpiel-goers.

To the delight of congregants young and old, Mordechai à la Megan uncovers plots against the government and urges his dear Hadassah (Esther) to save the Jewish people in her most alluring palace attire. Esther, also à la Megan, contemplates her difficult situation to the melody of Don’t Cry For Me Jews of Shushan, all while Haman- guess who plays him!- feigns concern for the King and cracks up the audience with his thick Indo-Franco-Slavic musings. In the end, the amused audience became participants as they grappled with the same questions that faced Esther as she summoned her strength to approach the King with her plea. And in modern life just as in Shushan, in the end the winners and the losers aren’t so clear- but everyone left with something to laugh about: Chag Purim!

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