Clifford Odets' Awake and Sing!, written during the depths of the Great Depression, opens a window on the overstuffed tenement apartment of the Berger family. The family matriarch, Bessie, is a domineering tyrant driven to control the life of her son, Ralph, with a plangent combination of fear and love. Her husband, Myron, is a nebbishy sidekick to her plans, and her father, Jacob, is a devout Marxist barber who believes socialism is the only way the common man is ever going to get a fair shake. The family factions bicker about money, the meaning of life and Bessie's belief that Ralph needs to be ruthlessly practical, marry well and keep slogging away at his stultifying job for the good of the family. Odets' sparkling dialogue and his idealism shine through the struggle and the arguments, illuminating his central belief that art and beauty can transform lives. The New Jewish Theatre presents Awake and Sing! at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (April 20 through May 8) in the Wool Studio Theatre at the Jewish Community Center (2 Millstone Campus Drive; 314-442-3283 or www.newjewishtheatre.org). Tickets are $32 to $36.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays. Starts: April 20. Continues through May 8, 2011