The Chosen – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Two fathers raising their teenage sons, living only five blocks apart in Brooklyn, New York, at the eve of World War Ii, who share the same religion, still manage to live worlds away from each other. Both men are dedicated to their roles as teachers and guiders, as instillers of wisdom, who love their offspring and only want what is best for them but approach their vital roles with a different set of rules. A chance game of baseball between the youth force their disparate worlds to collide as the fast ball Danny Saunders hits strikes the eye of pitcher Reuven Malter. That accident brings the two boys into a close encounter of the Jewish kind and changes their fates dramatically. Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven will explore that collision of beliefs until Sunday, December 17 with a new adaptation by Aaron Posner and Chaim Potok of Chaim Potok’s involving novel “The Chosen.”

Reuben Malter, an inquisitive and engaging Max Wolfowitz, enjoys a loving relationship with his father, David, an inspiring Steven Skybell, existing as equals in their bonds of intelligence seeking and understanding of their faith When Reuven meets the traditionally educated Chasidic boy Danny Saunders, a complicated and conflicted Ben Edelman, they form a tentative truce. The accident on the baseball diamond thrusts them together and causes them both to question their beliefs and upbringings.

While Reuven has the freedom and encouragement to become whoever he wants, Danny is being guided, even forced, to take the path his father dictates. Without either knowing it, Reuven’s dad has been mentoring Danny’s literary choices at the library, an act his own father Reb Saunders, a judgmental and observant George Guidall, would not approve. Reb Saunders even has to give his permission for the two boys to maintain a friendship.

Reuben acquits himself and is soon invited to study with the great patriarch, a special honor. Difficulties arise since even though both are students of the Talmud and dedicated yeshiva scholars, they have both grown up in vastly different environments. Danny feels the yoke of his father’s goals, to have him continue a rabbinic dynasty six generations in the making, to take over the leadership of Reb Saunders’ congregation. On the other hand, Reuven is free to pursue his own directions. The question of the existence of a state of Israel irrevocably divides the two families and the boys are forbidden to speak. The Malters are Zionists and want a Jewish homeland while the Saunders oppose the idea.Gordon Edelstein directs this absorbing family drama about parents and children struggling to reach a level of love and understanding that is liberating. It will appeal to people of all backgrounds and ethnicities.

For tickets ($29 and up), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharftheatre.org. Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Come discover how each boy, poised on the cusp of manhood, ultimately forges his own unique destiny and remains true to himself.

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