Much like I.L. Peretz’s Bontshe the Silent, Gimpel the Fool by Isaac Bashevis Singer is among a pantheon of characters in Yiddish literature best described as beautiful losers.
Peretz’s sub-text was to wake up the Jewish proletariat and persuade them not to accept things as they are.
Singer’s message is more passive as he describes a supremely gullible Gimpel who grew up believing everything he’s told, most of which is untrue. Despite everything, he believes in God and human kindness.
The play, translated from the Yiddish by Saul Bellow, directed and performed by Howard Rypp, with music by Ron Wiseman, is being mounted at the Montreal arts interculturels space, the former Strathearn School, 3650 Jeanne Mance.
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Gimpel marries a pregnant whore and when the child is born believes that it was a premature birth, and the child is his.
Gimpel is a multiple cuckold, and is encouraged by the devil to take revenge. He only changes his tack when visited by his now dead wife in a dream, who admits all is lies, saying she never fooled anyone but herself.
This apparition seems to free Gimpel from his role as village fool, and he wanders the countryside telling fantastic tales, at peace and looking forward to death.
Gimpel the Fool is on for six performances, June 13-17. Tickets cost $10. Seniors pay $8. Info: 514-849-3378 (849-FEST), montrealfringe.ca