Monday, April 26, 2010

GableStage: The Quarrel (3 reviews)

GableStage opened its production of The Quarrel on April 24, 2010.
Based on the Yiddish story "My Quarrel with Hersh Rasseyner" by Chaim Grade, this play tells the story of two friends, an Orthodox rabbi and a Jewish poet who has lost his faith - both Holocaust survivors from Bialystok. When they meet unexpectedly years later, it sparks a fierce battle of wits and a raw test of friendship faith and tolerance.
Joe Adler directed Avi Hoffman, Chaz Mena and Mark Della Ventura.

John LaRiviere reviewed for Talkin'
Most of the play involves just the two main characters, and this production is well acted by Hoffman and Mena, and very cleanly directed by Joseph Adler.
Avi Hoffman's portrayal of Hersh Rasseyner is heartfelt and true. He shows a kindness that allows his convictions to pour forth without the declarations sounding judgmental or harsh. His character's connection to his faith is so strong that it seems like many moments are also personal truths for the actor. Chaz Mena as Chaim Kovler matches Hoffman's ardent portrayal with one that is smooth and emotionally detached (save for one brief moment) from the subject of religion. This works well, as again the focus remains on the friendship...
The role of Joshua, played by Mark Della Ventura, stops rather than furthers the action in his brief appearance on stage. He is clearly out of his league with two such seasoned actors, and looks petrified on stage.
Roger Martin reviewed for
Seventy-five minutes (no intermission) of anger, forgiveness, love, lust, frustration, resignation, sorrow, happiness, and the two men in a little song and dance that will break your heart. The play I didn't particularly want to see is utterly fascinating.
Avi Hoffman and Chaz Mena seem born for this piece. I would gladly have spent another seventy-five minutes in their company.

Mark Della Ventura plays Joshua, a student of Hersh's, who in a short sharp scene interrogates Chaim to devastating effect. Della Ventura is someone to watch.
It doesn't seem possible that Joe Adler could top his last production, Blasted, for audience impact, but he's done just that with this gem.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Originally a Canadian film based on a 1950 short story by Yiddish writer Chaim Grade, The Quarrel is now an intense, emotion-filled, provocative piece of theater brought vibrantly to life by director Joseph Adler, starring Avi Hoffman and Chaz Mena and, in a small but incendiary role, Mark Della Ventura.
The work that Hoffman and Mena create together is so moving that, at the end of opening night, one man tried to speak through his tears and couldn't. He wasn't the only one.
The Quarrel plays at GableStage through May 16, 2010.


  1. Another review of "The Quarrel" is by Marvin Glassman of Jewish Journal published May 4 and can be seen at

  2. A better link is:,0,5937131.story