Theater: “The Wanderers”@ Laura Pels
Thank goodness for actresses like Sarah Cooper who plays Sophie, the half-Black, half-Jewish wife in Anna Ziegler’s “The Wanderers.” (Laura Pels/Roundabout). She brings a sharp-stick-in-the-eye sensibility to this talky, static play about two Jewish couples: one reform-ish, the other super-Orthodox.
Sophie is married to Abe (Eddie Kaye Thomas), a whiny, thirty-something Pulitzer Prize and National Book award-winning novelist who one day gives a reading of his book in Los Angeles. There, he is approached by a gorgeous, Katie-Holmes-type actress (played conveniently by Katie Holmes) who says she admires his work. Flattered, they begin an email correspondence, which over the course of the play amounts to virtual adultery.
So what does this award-winning novelist write about? His parents, Schmuli and Esther (Dave Klasko and Lucy Flyer), who are the other couple we see on stage. They are Satmar Hasids, a super-religious sect whose men wear paises and beaver hats and whose women cover their hair. Woe to those who stray from their strict beliefs as Esther finds out.
The reveal toward the end of the play ties it all together, but meanwhile we have to suffer through a lot of verbiage, and Abe’s narcissistic behavior, to get there. On a positive note, both Cooper and Klasko are excellent in their respective roles, one representing modern-Orthodox, the other unrepentantly ultra-ultra-Orthodox.
“The Wanderers” was our first visit back to Roundabout since the pandemic. Sorry to say, they’d better do better than this or we’re going to keep on a-wandering.