Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Woody Allen’s “G-d” and “Death” coming to SF

Posted by Oyster on March 18, 2007

Woody Allen Death

This is a guest post by ArchAngel, a local Jewish thespian who also walks upon the histrionic planks.

(for those of you who are uninitiated, Woody Allen could be described as the quintessential nebbishy Jew in pop culture)

San Francisco’s Custom Made Theatre is heading into the final stretch of its
production of Woody Allen’s short plays “God” and “Death.” The hit
production has been selling out since it opened on February 2 and has now
been extended twice. There are three remaining performances this Thursday,
Friday and Saturday. Then the show must close in order for the company to
open their next production.

The two Allen scripts were not originally written to be played in tandem,
but are brilliantly paired in this production. Though the times and
settings are dramatically different, they both wrestle with Woody’s
recurring existential themes of god and death. The style is classic Woody
Allen slapstick and the results are both thoughtful and hilarious.

“God” opens with two Athenians, brilliantly named Diabetes and Hepatitis who
are despairing over the lack of an ending for the play they will be
performing at the upcoming Athenian drama festival. As they argue over
dramatic structure, they come to the realization that they are actually
characters in a play, which has unfortunately been authored by Woody Allen.
They muse over the irony of being in a play while creating a play.
Eventually, a solution to the problem of “the ending” arrives in the form of
a salesman with the Deus Ex Machina. It appears there may be a solution
(however cliché, to our play. Sadly, when the moment for its operation
comes, the machine is caught on something and Zeus (played by Bursitis) is
accidentally strangled to death in the contraption. The Athenians are left
to determine their own ending.

“Death” whisks us away to New York City where Kleinman is rudely awakened at
2:30 in the morning by an angry mob trying to hunt down a serial killer.
The entire town seems wrapped up in an extremely intricate plan to catch the
madman. Kleinman is roped into the fiasco but remains mystified as to how
he is supposed to help. As the play progresses, he comes to realize he may
be both a suspect and a victim. Without spoiling the ending, we are left
with similar problems presented in “God.”

Both of these scripts present some of the classic Jewish themes of
struggling with the concept of the almighty and when the almighty seems to
be present and absent. Though the company does not bill itself as “being
Jewish” the management is all Jewish and many of the actors are as well.
And, as with all of Woody Allen’s work, you do not have to be Jewish to
appreciate it, but it does help. The plays are great entertainment with
some insight and intelligence as well. They are also silly in the famous
Woody Allen fashion. The direction, designs and performances are all strong
and well suited to the intimate venue.

The final three shows are sure to sell out, so be sure to reserve your
tickets if you would like to attend. The remaining performances will be at
8:00 PM on March 22, 23 and 24. The house opens at 7:30 PM and there is a
lobby open at 7:00 PM. The Custom Stage is located at the Off-Market
Theater at 965 Mission St in San Francisco. Tickets are $25.00 and can be
purchased from the company’s website at www.custommade.org. Discounts are
available for students, seniors, Theatre Bay Area Members, groups and
educators. More information about the company and its productions are
available on the website as well. Discount tickets for this show (and shows
all over the bay area) can also be purchased at www.goldstarevents.com and
www.tixbayarea.com. Be sure to keep your eyes out for Custom Made’s
upcoming production of “The Water Engine” (by David Mamet, also Jewish) in
April and May and “Assassins” (by Stephen Sondheim) in June and July.

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