New Jersey Stage
Monday, September 19, 2011
New Jersey Rep Presents World Premiere of Jericho by Jack Canfora
There are pivotal moments in all our lives, even the most humble ones, when things threaten to careen and spin out of control. Sometimes the event takes the form of what we call a tragedy and cuts to the bone, thrumming every fiber of our being and the rudely struck discordant chords may reverberate within us for the rest of our upended days. "Jericho" deals with such a moment, one that intrudes unexpectedly into the lives of the play's characters, four years before the start of the play.
Despite the intervening years, the resultant wounds are still as fresh as on that fateful day. Beth lost her husband who now haunts her as a ghost as she tries unsuccessfully to rebuild her life. Despite years of therapy she is unable to move on, stuck like an insect in a hermetically sealed display case suffocating for lack of air. When she meets Ethan, he seems to be the ideal one to gently shepherd her back to the fold and rejoin the human race, but it seems that his very kindness intensifies her fears of reconnecting and being vulnerable once again to another person.
Ethan invites Beth to his mother's home for Thanksgiving dinner in Jericho, Long Island and despite her initial protestations she is about to meet Rachel, the bustling take-charge matriarch, Ethan's brother, Josh, who has found religion as an Orthodox Jew, and his sister-in-law, Jessica. As we have all learned at one time or another, holidays are a dangerous time. Not only because of an increase in road accidents but because they are invested with so much more than merely ceremonial significance as many an unfortunate family throughout America has discovered. These communal gatherings with loved ones should be peaceful momentary refuges from life's grinding pressures but all too often turn out to be just the opposite, boiling cauldrons where long pent-up grievances and politely repressed emotions unexpectedly explode to everyone's great consternation. Little does Beth suspect that she is headed for just such a collision, one that will radically alter all their lives and perhaps set Beth, as well as the others, on the long road toward healing. But it will take Josh, and the revelation of his painful secret about the very moment that turned Beth's life upside down, and Jessica's coming to terms with her disintegrating marriage, to be the catalysts.
In "Jericho" although the cataclysmic past asserts its ponderous and pervasive presence, salvation is never far away, and the comic sense of life is never lost, as playwright Jack Canfora pulls out all the stops in this powerful and raucous comic-drama.
Canfora is not new to New Jersey Rep and has had previous productions at the theater including "Place Setting" (2006) and "Poetic License," (2007) and it was recently announced that the latter will be opening in New York City in February, 2012 at 59E59 Theatres.
"Jericho" is directed by Evan Bergman and stars Corey Tazmania, Matt Huffman, Andrew Rein, Jim Shankman, Carol Todd and Kathleen Goldpaugh.