New York City’s Central Park is not a walk in the park, if you’ll pardon the pun. This is amply demonstrated at the West Coast Jewish Theatre’s current production ‘I’m Not Rappaport’. This goes double when you have two elderly gentlemen, one a querulous African American and the other a contrary Jew, both whom have seen better times. Both of them spend their days on a park bench in Central Park, sparring with each other, embellishing their past with tall tales to spend the time and dodging intrusive well wishers and nefarious types waiting in the shadows.
The original play ran for over 900 performances in the early eighties and captured a Tony for best play and also one for Judd Hirsch playing the elderly Jew. In this production, Jack Axelrod takes on the role of the Jew and Carl Crudup, the other. Both do credit to the proceedings.
The show amply demonstrates on a number of levels the hand this society deals the elderly. It shows the challenge that old age faces when the young have all the advantages offered. It also gives us an insight into how much the elderly just want to be left alone and allowed to face life on their own two feet that they are more than capable of. And the play brings out the danger that lurks when they are seen as a moving target to be taken advantage of at every turn and dodging intrusive well wishers and nefarious types waiting in the shadows.
Jack Axelrod brings to the forum extensive experience in both film and stage.
The same can be said of Carl Crudup and the only criticism of his taking on this role might be if he would be just a little less strident in his rebuttals dealing with his friend as the play unfolds.
All the supporting cast fit into the roles with aplomb especially Patrick Rafferty in the part of the cowboy.
Howard Teichman in directing this piece shows his feeling and appreciation of what a work of this offers and manages to bring out the nuances which the author, Herb Gardner intended when he first envisioned this production.
Kurtis Bedford could not have done a better job in the way his set design augments and advances the progress of the show.
I was quite impressed of the theatre itself, the Pico Playhouse, quite a cut above what you usually find in smaller theatres of this type.
The show runs through June 23, Thursdays through Sundays, at eight with Sundays at 3.
10508 W. Pico Blv. 3233.860.6620. www.wcjt.org.