Black and Bluestein Review

Opening to a packed house at the Other Space in Santa Monica Playhouse (1211 4th St, Santa Monica 310 459 1548) Black and Bluestein, a serious comedy, written by Jerry Mayer, gives you a punch in the arm and reminds you what life was like just a few short years ago and how bigotted we can be.  The writing sparkles with jokes and witticisms but the words are meaningful as we relate not to how we are now but to how we were then.

Black and Bluestein:Jeff and Susan Bluestein (Jamie Luner)

Set in a St. Louis suburb in 1963, days after Kennedy's death, Jeff Bluestein (Loren Lester) is a developer looking to sell his home and move to his new site. His beautiful wife, Susan (Jamie Luner) is an avid civil rights activist. When African American Dr. Daniel Black (John Eric Bentley) decides he wants to buy in this mainly Jewish enclave, all hell breaks loose.

Mimi Roth (Kelly Lester) is the home owners association president bitch from hell who leads the rally to prevent Jeff from selling to 'one of those.' Uncle Joe Grodsky (Stuart Pankin) has his own paranoid thoughts since his store in a predominately black neighborhood has been robbed several times and he has stereotyped all blacks into menial Sfartzas (black in Yiddish but derogatory as Daniel later points out to him.)

Black and Bluestein: Dr. Black and Uncle Joe (Stuart Pankin

Neighbor Marvin Feldman (Danny Goldman) has his own tsurris (worries) as he is also trying to sell his house. Everyone is sure that not only will the prices drop but that this will be an entrance to more blacks and gangs. Jeff is distressed. Not only are his neighbors against him but all his family and now he is getting anonymous threats if he sells to a black. In going over his pros and cons, he remembers what his mother had always told him, 'To be a good Jew you have to act in a Godly manner.'

Black and Bluestein: Dr. Black and Jeff Bluestein

As Daniel's wife, Doris (Candy Brown) pushes him to be more of a man, the good doctor is willing to bide his time and persuade them logically. When she sings the Irving Berlin song, Suppertime, about a mother who has to tell her kids that Dad won't be home because he was just lynched by a mob, Uncle Joe starts to realize that Jews escaping Russia and the pogroms and blacks dealing with the Southern prejudice have a lot in common.

He agrees to accept Daniel as a neighbor. The author stated that this play was from personal experience and no the prices did not come down and everyone eventually accepted Dr. Black and his family. They play was thoroughly enjoyable and caused, I'm sure, a bit of soul searching among the older members of the audience.  The cast is outstanding and each everyone is wonderful and director Deborah Harmon did a wonderful job.

Black and Bluestein: Dr. Daniel Black (John Eric Bentley) and Jeff Bluestein (Loren Lester)

This serious comedy runs until April 29 (and maybe longer if there's support). Performances are Saturdays 3 pm and 8 pm and Sundays 3 pm and 7 pm.

You can call the theatre or go on line

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