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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "If I Forget" by Steven Levenson at Laura Pels Theatre
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Roundabout Theatre Company Presents "If I Forget" by Steven Levenson at Laura Pels Theatre

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Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO
Julia C. Levy, Executive Director
Sydney Beers, General Manager
Steve Dow, Chief Administrative Officer

If I Forget
(If I Forget Website)

By Steven Levenson
Directed by Daniel Sullivan

Larry Bryggman, Maria Dizzia, Tasha Lawrence, Jeremy Shamos
Seth Steinberg, Kate Walsh, Gary Wilmes

Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre
Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre
111 West 46th Street
New York, NY
(Roundabout Laura Pels Theatre Website)

Set Design: Derek McLane
Costume Design: Jess Goldstein
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Original Music & Sound Design: Dan Moses Schreier
Production Stage Manager: Kevin Bertolacci
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA, Carrie Gardner, CSA
Press Representative: Polk & Co.
if I Forget General Manager: Nicholas J. Caccavo
Director of Marketing: Elizabeth Kandel
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Director of Development: Christopher Nave
Director of New Play Development: Jill Rafson
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Adams Associate Artistic Director: Scott Ellis

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 24, 2017

Three middle class Jewish siblings convene at their father’s home outside Washington, DC, to celebrate a birthday and discuss who will continue to care for their father, if the family home should be sold, and, mainly the fate of their father’s discount store, a business that has survived for decades. Steven Levenson’s new play has threadbare pathos, as each character, in his/her own state of need, has the family bonds to keep strength and sanity. Conversational explosions, years-long jealousies and recriminations, marital betrayals, their own children’s tuition, medical bills, and travel expenses, and topics about who’s a good Jew and who is not are all thrown into an emotional blender and then disappear with the same, familial wave of the hand. They have formed a family fraternity and nothing and no one can sever their loyalties. This is an impressive clan, created by the youthful and optimistic Mr. Levenson.

Michael Fischer (Jeremy Shamos) is the middle sibling, an almost-tenured professor of Jewish studies, who just published a book about the Jewish Americans’ need to obsess on the Holocaust. This is probably not a topic that will ensure his tenure, and Lou Fischer, the elderly and frail father, delivers a diatribe against his son’s premise, as Lou had freed Dachau prisoners in 1945, witnessing the horror of the aftermath of this unspeakable crime against millions. Michael remains intractable and argues his points. Holly Fischer (Kate Walsh), the eldest, has arrived with her husband Howard Kilberg (Gary Wilmes) and son, Joey Oren (Seth Steinberg). Holly behaves as the “have”, in contrast to the younger sister, Sharon Fischer (Maria Dizzia), a teacher who cares daily for their father, who’s treated as the “have not”. Michael’s wife, Ellen Manning (Tasha Lawrence), the non-Jew in the brood, is concerned for their finances, should tenure go down, while their offstage daughter, Abby, is traveling in Israel, between breakdowns.

Family history and Jewish history occasionally intertwine in conversational banter and backbiting, as the Peace Talks between Israel and Palestine had recently failed. Acts I and II take place in summer 2000 and winter 2001 respectively. Daniel Sullivan directs to showcase each family character in a warm, embracing light (thanks to Kenneth Posner), highlighting an immediate need, a new revelation, a feeling of temporary isolation or angst. As noted above, isolation of one family member generates an immediate support system, such as Lou’s cries for help saving his beloved business and staff, Sharon’s cries for help caring for Lou, Holly’s cries of shock on discovery of a marital betrayal, Michael’s cries of conflict on whether he’ll soon be unemployed, relating to his book and the tenure committee, Abby’s phoned cries for emergency help in Israel, and Joey’s cries for help, not for himself but for his cousin, Abby. Holly’s husband is isolated in shame for a major betrayal, but Michael’s wife is comforted as she, too, comforts Abby. Derek McLane’s incredible colonial home has upstairs and downstairs lit rooms where these tête-à-têtes occur. This is master ensemble acting. Kudos to all.

Tasha Lawrence, Jeremy Shamos, Maria Dizzia,
Larry Bryggman, Kate Walsh, Larry Wilmes, Seth Steinberg
in "If I Forget"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

Jeremy Shamos, Seth Steinberg
Maria Dizzia, Larry Bryggman, Kate Walsh
in "If I Forget"
Courtesy of Richard Termine

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at