NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – “My Names is Asher Lev” is a riveting, powerful production at George Street Playhouse. Based on the novel by Chaim Potok, this beautifully written script tells the anguished story of a young artist, his relationship with his parents and his search for his own identity.
The plot moves seamlessly, under the direction of Jim Jack. The three-character play never wavers, especially the sterling performance by Miles G. Jackson. Jackson moves fluidly from the age of six or seven to adulthood, all the while being draw to painting in all its forms. His parents are played by Bob Ari and Lena Kaminsky, who also portray other people who enter Asher’s life.
The young man’s journey takes us from his parents’ apartment in Brooklyn, to his father’s departure for Vienna, Asher’s introduction to the artist and mentor Jacob Kahan and his own experience in Europe, with vivid descriptions of Florence.
His parents are relieved, when they plan to attend his exhibit in New York, that there will be no nudes. But little do they know what’s in store for them as Asher paints scenes of suffering. The whole mix of art, Jewish faith, the crucifixion and other elements create an intense clash of values, especially between Asher and his father.
Aaron Posner has adapted Potok’s novel with sensitivity, capturing exquisite dialogue in this young man’s evolving experiences. When he tries to explain to his father the difference between a naked woman and a nude, you can see how far apart they are in their views of the world. R. Michael Miller’s scenic design displays solid, square columns on a bare stage, with the exception of a dining table, a desk and an easel. The paintings are never shown in realistic detail, which adds to the sense of imagination the audience must bring to this production.
Lighting by Christopher J. Bailey is particularly striking, especially when Lena Kaminsky as his mother is pictured alone at their apartment window. There’s great simplicity in the presentation, while still conveying a larger message. Costumes by David Murin and wig design by Jared Janas add to the fluidity of this powerful production.
“My Name is Asher Lev” is not to be missed for its heartbreaking glimpse of lives that diverge, meet again and yet never quite understand each other.
Performances continue through May 1. For tickets, call 732-246-7717 or visit GSPonline.org. George Street Playhouse is located at 9 Livingston Ave., New Brunswick.