A Shayna Maidel | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Shayna Maidel

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A Shayna Maidel, Attic Playhouse. The two sisters in A Shayna Maidel may be Jewish, and their separation since childhood precipitated by Nazi oppression, but their awkward attempts to resurrect family ties after being reunited in 1946 represent the struggle of all immigrants to reconcile their new fortunes with those of family members left behind. As long as America remains a sanctuary for the world's outcasts, the universal appeal of such stories is assured.

Bonding does not come easily to these dissimilar women. Rose has assimilated thoroughly to life in the United States and is now a smart Manhattan career girl, addressed in Yiddish only by her elders. But her cozy apartment, with its modern appliances and well-stocked refrigerator, awakens in the forlorn Lusia memories of loved ones lost in the war--including a husband for whom she continues to search. Witnessing her pain, Rose grows to resent the way her own guardians withheld the past from her. Further exacerbating the tension is their father, a stern patriarch more given to scolding than soothing.

Unlike many recent depictions of the Holocaust, Barbara Lebow's 1987 play presents us with a history as intimate as a snapshot. And what this Attic Playhouse production, directed by Lauren Berman Rawitz, may lack in analytic scope is more than redeemed by warmth, humanity, and emotional truth.

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