Liberal Jews unhappy about the results of an election. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A gentrifying neighborhood with rising rents. If I Forget could’ve been set in the present day, as opposed to late 2000/early 2001. The play drives home the adage that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This comic and poignant play about a family on the precipice was written by Steven Levenson of Dear Evan Hansen fame and although the themes are different both shows use humor while dealing with sad and serious topics. In If I Forget those topics include sibling rivalry, the Holocaust, marital strife and mental illness.
The cast is uniformly excellent. Theater stalwarts Jeremy Shamos and Maria Dizzia are joined by Kate Walsh as the three siblings — replete with long simmering feuds and newer issues to work out. Shamos’s Michael is a college professor who has written a book about the Holocaust that does not sit well with other members of the family. Larry Bryggman as their father Lou brings pathos to his smaller role. There are also spouses with issues of their own and three teenagers, only one seen, who bring their adolescent problems to the mix. The show asks what we owe our families, our communities, and our heritages as lies are discovered and unpleasant truths faced.
My only quibble with the show is its ending. It is lyrical, but it didn’t match the tone of the rest of the plot. I felt the show could’ve ended on a stronger note with the anguished shouting of the father as he overhears his children talking about his future and the future of his life’s work. If I Forget reminds us of the cost of remembering, and the price we pay in forgetting. AFW
Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre
Ticket price: $89
Discounts available $49 thru March 5 (at presstime) with BroadwayBox and Playbill.
Runs thru: April 30, 2017
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes with 15-minute intermission