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'Beau Jest' funny, delightful, but subject matter raises debate
Atlanta Maccabiah Press

If you enjoy a romantic comedy with a twist, "Beau Jest" is an absolute delight.

The play staged at the Atlanta Jewish Community Center in late October, was produced by Kim Goodfriend and directed by Center veteran Beverly Shmerling.

The duo combined their talents to present a funny and delightful, yet serious, tale of Sarah, a young, Jewish single woman living in Chicago who is dating a non-Jewish man. The conflict is not in the relationship itself, but with Sarah's parents' "old-fashioned views" on her interfaith relationship.

Thus, to please her parents, Sarh hires a supposedly Jewish male escort to play her "boyfriend". It all backfires when Sarah, played by Mira Hirsch, not only learns that the escort is gentile, but her "secret" becomes harder to keep from her family.

Through Sarah, her escort and her parents-portrayed by BeBe Forehand and Lenny Alpert with a three- dimensional flair not seen in any of the other cast member's work-the play examines the trials and tribulations of the conflict of interfaith relationships in modern Judaism. The play shows how the Jewish parents have raised their daughter to believe that it is very important to marry within the faith.

In some respects, "Beau Jest" is the female version of "The Jazz Singer," but it works on a more realistic level. A majority of the audience was able to relate to every religious nuance and mannerism the characters had to offer.

Thanks to the portrayal of Sarah, "the escort" (Brad Davidorf), and Sarah's parents, what "Beau Jest" achieves is raising the debate that has carried on for generations in Jewish/Gentile relationships. What the play fails to communicate is how complex the problem has become over the years.

We never hear Abe and Miriam's explanations for the way they feel, and more importantly, Sarah's.
(C)1994 Robert J. Nebel

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