Daughters of Mile End combines poignancy and humour
Labyrinth’s second production focuses on the children of Holocaust survivors
By Byron Toben
The writer-producer team of Pearl Lottner Rothenberg and Claudia Litvak Polachek have come up with their second creation, Daughters of Mile End.
Their initial sortie, The Queen of Chesed, selling out the huge Theatre Outremont for a two- day run in November 2017, was about a selfless woman in New York helping the homeless.
At the end of that review, I mentioned that rumour hath it that this duo was working on a second play set in the Plateau. Well, rumour was true. The setting is not only Mile End but the characters ring true as they reflect the growing up of many denizens of that recently gentrifying district whose parents were holocaust survivors. That includes both Ms. Lottner Rothenberg and the excellent director, Rachelle Glait.
The 13-person cast is all female. It is built around four now mature ladies and portrays their younger selves as 30s adults and even younger selves as little children.
The women at various ages were:
Sienna Falato / Mara Berkowitz
Mss. Kis, Solomon and Verrucci also portrayed three other mature cameos.
All of the actors handled their assignments well although the two equity actors (Leroux and Verrucci ) did have that certain je ne sais quoi stage presence that stood out. As for the precocious youngsters, I recalled W.C. Field’s reluctance to be in any scene with a child as he/she would steal the scene from him.
The 90-minute show manages to cram in a number of poignant episodes amidst humorous cracks.
All of the actors handled their assignments well although the two equity actors (Leroux and Verrucci ) did have that certain je ne sais quoi stage presence that stood out.
In their program notes, the playwright/producers mention that while there have been many accounts of holocaust survivors, it appears there have been no plays of the children thereof… until now.
The closest I could find was the wonderful documentary film Dark Lullabies wherein local film couple Irene Angelico and Abby Neidick recorded the children of survivors (of which she is one) meeting the children of Nazis, some of whom operated the camps.
Here’s an idea… make a film out of this play. I hereby waive any fees for thinking of this.
Daughters of Mile End played at DB Clarke Theatre from April 3 to 6.
Images: James St Laurent
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.