Sam and Itkeh

Artistic director, Stanley Brechner. Opened Oct. 28, 1997, at the Raymond J. Greenwald Performance Space. Reviewed Oct. 23; 152 seats; $ 30 top. Running time: 1 HOUR, 23 MIN.

Artistic director, Stanley Brechner. Opened Oct. 28, 1997, at the Raymond J. Greenwald Performance Space. Reviewed Oct. 23; 152 seats; $ 30 top. Running time: 1 HOUR, 23 MIN.

Cast: Marilyn Sokol (Itkeh), David Little (Sam).

Incessant kvetching dominates Jack LaZebnik’s brief memory play about a retired Jewish couple who have managed to stay married for 50 years. Too many skeletons in the family closet, and the alarming regularity with which they surface, leave little room for a cohesive narrative.

In a stiflingly cramped Phoenix apartment, Sam (David Little) suffers the persistent nagging of his wife, Itkeh (Marilyn Sokol). The TV is too loud, the people upstairs make too much noise, and polkas blare from a kitchen radio, where an unseen Polish maid serves no apparent purpose other than to make an occasional cup of tea to soothe Sam’s nerves.

The two actors often assume other roles, resurrecting ghosts from the past. From their first date watching Chaplin twirl his cane at a nickelodeon through the Depression years and the “good war” to Sam’s success as a junk dealer, the play never finds its center or focus.

Itkeh wallows in self-pity, regretting the abandonment of the gentile suitor of her youth, her endless carping and bickering a constant irritant. Even at 80 minutes, the play certainly had room to explore the characters with more depth and imagination.

Sam and Itkeh

Production: NEW YORK The American Jewish Theater presentation of a play in two acts by Jack LaZebnik. Directed by Richard Harden. Set and costumes, William Schroder.

Crew: Lighting, Jason Boyd; sound, Laura Brown; stage manager, Laura Steib.

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