Donna Murphy stars as Raisel, who is more commonly referred to as Bubbie by her doting granddaughter. Raisel recounts stories to her granddaughter Jenny (an irritating Rachel Resheff) of her days as an actor in a Yiddish theater troupe in Warsaw, Poland. Despite being unable to talk about anything but the past, Raisel aggressively resists any memories her daughter Red (Nicole Parker) attempts to discuss, which is where the story’s haziness begins. Through her avoidance and weakened voice, we see that Raisel is haunted by her past—quite literally, actually, as the spirits of her dead friends visit her. Nothing like being beaten over the head with a metaphor.
Raisel is getting pretty old (judging by Murphy’s performance, I’d say about 126) and she’s losing her wits. Red finds it unacceptable for a senior citizen’s mind not to be as sharp as a tack, so she starts researching retirement homes. Raisel rails against her daughter’s suggestion with rage, as the mere idea reminds her of being put into a Nazi concentration camp. Ah, here come the memories that Raisel is trying to escape.
The story swerves in and out of Raisel’s past during Nazi-occupied Poland and the present day, which in this play is 1977. The transitions are abrupt and even stack up on each other. One moment the story is in the present with the 1970s characters, then it’s in the past with the 1940s characters, and sometimes the 1940s cast is talking in the present. No wonder Bubbie gets confused! Read more
To summarize this play would be missing the point. If you don’t understand it (which I didn’t), there is still fun to be had. But for a primer, it’s about a plotting mayor, played by Donna Murphy, who rules over a destitute town. A rock starts spouting water and people flock to the town to see it and the “mayoress” charges them for it. Suddenly, Raul Esparza arrives to sort out the town crazies and the mayor is out to arrest Sutton Foster for questioning the validity of the lucrative miracle. Read more