Two Jews Walk Into A War – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

What might it feel like to be responsible for a cause, that if you fail you could be responsible for the end of an era, the death of a tradition, the demise of a heritage? Even if you are not Don Quixote, you will surely feel an obligation to test your mettle and hope to succeed in your mission. Come meet Ishaq and Zeblyan who have the unique distinction of being the last two Jews in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan. They are busy burying their third compatriot Yakob and now there are only two. The Taliban is busy conducting a war around them and have already destroyed their synagogue and stolen their Torah. The future, if there is one, is solidly in their hands. And, wait, did I forget to mention the two men hate each other, passionately and vociferously.

Until Sunday October 10, Playhouse on Park in West Hartford is inviting you to a front row seat for the altercation as Seth Rozin’s vaudeville style play “Two Jews Walk Into A War…” takes center stage with Mitch Greenberg as the polished professor and purist Ishaq who matches wits with the more secular and skeptical business man Bob Ari as Zeblyan. The two bicker like old fish wives over everything from how to save the Jewish population, all two of them, to who had the worst experience surviving the Holocaust. Ironically their families lived to see another day only to come to Afghaniston for resettlement rather than go to Israel or America. A poor decision indeed.

The big question is can they work together long enough to save the Jewish people by creating a community in Kabul. Think of “The Odd Couple” meets the Borscht Belt. They need a plan, one they can agree on if such is possible. After discarding many unacceptable solutions, they decide that they need a synagogue and a Torah. Reluctantly Zeblyan becomes a scribe and records every word Ishaq dictates, down to each comma and period. After many false starts and interruptions as Zeblyan questions God, it appears they may actually accomplish their goal. What happens next is more sorrow than shtick.

The playwright conceived this story from an actual newspaper account of two Jews in this religious predicament so it is based on reality. How he injected humor into their situation, one based on mutual hostility, is interestingly problematic and worthy of a discussion, one that takes place after the Sunday matinees. For tickets ($40-50), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900 ext.10 or online at tix.com. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Tuesday at 2 p.m., and Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. David Hammond directs this 90 minute show, with no intermission. Masks, a government issued ID and proof of vaccination are required.

Watch how two men who only agree on their mutual hatred of each other grow in their faith and learn to respect and understand.

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