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Jane Enkin Reviews WJT'S Another Way Home-Playing Until Nov 6

by Jane Enkin, Nov 2, 2016

Another Way Home

By Anna Ziegler

Directed by Ari Weinberg

Winnipeg Jewish Theatre at the Berney Theatre

October 27 – November 6, 2016


Another Way Home is a moving play of family love stories, intense and poignant and funny -- challenged, imperfect love, love that simply does the best it can under the circumstances.  From the buzz in the lobby on opening night, I can say that many people recognized aspects of their own lives in the relationships between parents and not-quite-adult children on stage. Some plays move an audience by showing extraordinary characters or adventures; Another Way Home reached the WJT audience by presenting situations that led to the question, “What would I do?”


The audience has time before the play to drink in the beauty of Linda Beech’s set design, tall silhouettes of evergreen trees.  The simple wooden benches and platforms and those beautiful pines belong to Camp Kickapoo.  Lillian and Phillip Nadelman open the play, telling us the story of their trip to Maine to see their son, Joseph, on Visitor’s Day at camp.  Their casual tone, teasing each other, digging at each other, supporting each other, begins to reveal their family. At the camp, we meet Counsellor-In-Training Joseph, an awkward, disturbed teen who has defied diagnosis over the years – anxiety? depression? ADD ? a personality disorder?  Whatever is bothering him, it bothers his parents too, and we see their varied attempts to cope. The Nadelmans have a teen daughter at home as well, a model student who puzzles her parents mildly with her devotion to Taylor Swift, and Joseph has a rare friend in Mike T., a counsellor at camp. Although everyone tries to get through the day, too many buttons are pressed, and Joseph walks away and disappears.  Revelations about the family arise as his parents search for the missing boy.


Director Ari Weinberg, in his program notes, points out that although this is a determinedly secular family, it is easy to believe them as Jewish.  Strong evidence is found in the centrality of family in their lives, their attachment to memory, nostalgia, and regrets, and their loud exclamations of worry as a deep expression of love.  The delicious comedy and the pain in this play often come together – I think my favourite moment is when daughter and mother laugh gleefully together over the phone as Lillian assures Nora that she has more than enough worry for both her children, an overflowing supply of worry.


Mariam Bernstein and Cory Wojcik are terrific together as the parents – totally believable as a couple who have spent years together.  They skillfully navigate the playwright’s description of people who know each other deeply but have distances and hidden areas in their lives. Bernstein shows moving delicacy, slowly letting us know about Lillian’s moods and self-perception.  I love her giddy enthusiasm as she reaches out to Joseph in her letters to him at camp, confiding in her son while striving firmly to support him from afar. Wojcik shows us a man who considers himself rational and self-contained, making both his explosions and his remorse about them startling and involving. Wojcik’s Phillip is tense with frustration and sadness, while driven always to keep reaching out.


Miranda Baran’s Nora is energetic and determined.  Baran is skillful at the lightning-quick shifts in feeling as she opens up about her fears and needs, then rationally works to support her frantic parents. She sings a couple of Taylor Swift songs, sweetly and simply, showing clearly why they have powerful meaning for the teen. Tristan Carlucci skillfully takes on the challenge of communicating the life of a character who mostly does not want to communicate.  He shrugs and looks away from people, then has outbursts of questions about what really matters in life.  Carlucci plays this often incoherent person with sufficient emotional coherence to keep the audience caring about him. As Mike T., Darren Martens gives caring attentiveness to the family, and brings power to his scene when he opens up about his own life.


I’m glad WJT has brought this play to Winnipeg – I laughed hard, I cried I admit, and I left thinking about my own life and my own family.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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