There was not an empty seat in the house, and when the action hit high gear, not a dry eye from all the laughter.
This was the scene last month at the Segal Centre as veteran actors Aron Gonshor and Sam Stein went through their shtick as out-of-work and estranged vaudevillians Anshil chaplin and Fayvish Shvakhmakher planning a reunion.
It was the first of two nights in a staged reading of the Yiddish adaptation of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys, rendered by translator Miriam Hoffman as Di Komedyant’n.
I loved it, and was thankful for the English supertitles to help with a missed phrase or two in my not-perfect Yiddish. I quickly forgot the actors were “on book,” walking around with script in hand. Gonshor and Stein’s acting was so richly developed, and the script so delicious, that the “reading” aspect faded away.
The gestures, the pauses, the exaggerated looks and rich dialogue, replete with slapstick elements and repeated jokes, made for a rollicking theatre experience.
It bodes well for the rest of the robust program in the I Love Yiddish series presented this season by the Dora Wasserman Yiddish Theatre.
On December 3 and 4, don’t miss the reprise of the Yiddish version of Michel Tremblay’s Les Belles Soeurs, rendered as Di Shveigerins by translators Goldie Morgentaler and Pierre Anctil. It was presented 20 years ago by Tremblay as a masterful version, and features the original cast, directed by Rachelle Glait.
On Dec. 16, 7 p.m., Yiddish Theatre Singers and KlezKanada musicians will get together for song and dance on the last night of Chanukah.
On Jan. 13, a mini Yiddish film festival will feature three storied films with subtitiles, starting at 2 p.m.
On Jan. 22, Maurice Podbrey, founding artistic director of the Centaur Theatre, will read I.L. Peretz’s great Yiddish story, Bontshe Shvayg. Anna Fishman Gonshor will talk about Peretz and the Yiddish Theatre singers will interpret some of his poems in song.