These little circularities and kisses to the past that the Playhouse keeps throwing us in the last leg of the Everyman’s rebirth – also seen just a couple of years ago as the shagged-out theatre finished its last run with Tis Pity She’s a Whore and Anthology series – are pleasant and rewarding.
In bringing back Stuart Richman (right), one of the Everyman’s founders, there’s a circularity in evidence that connects the past with the present. Fittingly, Richman is bringing his own adaptation of A Day Of Pleasure, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s rumination on his childhood in Warsaw as he prepares to head to Stockholm to pick up a Nobel prize for literature.
A Day Of Pleasure seems not to be so much about the stories, but the art of storytelling; the nature of the storyteller, especially in communities that told their history and lore orally. The role of myth, whimsy, exaggeration and humour – and the reliability or otherwise of the narrator – in these discourses is alluded to without being explicitly pondered. Simply, stories are told; it’s left to us what we take from them.
Rooted in a Jewish milieu – one that takes in Warsaw and New York – it’s no surprise that this is a particularly Yiddish idiom. Bread from Steinberg’s the bakers, kvetching from generations practised in the art and a liberal sprinkling of Yiddish and East European slang, delivered perfectly by Richman, constitute a rich brew.
On a set that perfectly evokes a lived-in, slightly faded New York apartment – so much so you can practically smell the blinis and chicken soup – Richman, as Singer, dispenses a lesson on the power of writing and storytelling. A fading art that must never bore, never hector and never be lost. It felt like an important production and one to be admired.
A Day Of Pleasure
Liverpool Playhouse Studio
Until 28 September