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Judith Miller on Nathan Englander’s New Play

Today on Tablet, a look at The Twenty-Seventh Man

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Daniel Oreskes, Chip Zien, and Ron Rifkin in The Twenty-Seventh Man, written by Nathan Englander and directed by Barry Edelstein, at The Public Theater through Dec. 9.(Joan Marcus)

Today on Tablet, our theater critic Judith Miller explores Nathan Englander’s first work written for the stage. Englander, who labels himself ‘an accidental playwright,’ based The Twenty-Seventh Man about a real event in which Stalin set out to murder Yiddish writers.

And what a poignant story he has told. At first, the three prison mates whom Stalin’s secret police have arrested—all giants of Yiddish literature in Russia—react to their plight with literary banter born of disbelief and denial. They try to shrug off their ominous incarceration with literary insults and Jewish jokes. Vasily Korinsky (Chip Zien), a true believer in Communist claptrap, a proud Party man who writes paeans to Stalin in verse, only half jokingly describes himself as “the most recognizable writer in this nation.” Clearly his arrest has been an “error,” an “oversight” that will be rectified if and when he can speak to The Agent in Charge. Though he writes in Yiddish, he is the prototypical new man—beyond race, region, ethnicity, and surely religion. Judaism is his culture and religion, not his life, he tells his cellmates.

Check out the rest here.

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Judith Miller on Nathan Englander’s New Play

Today on Tablet, a look at The Twenty-Seventh Man

More on Tablet:

Seders in Uniform: How American Troops Celebrated Passover During WWII

By Marjorie Ingall — Whether in the mess hall or on a battleship, Jewish soldiers stationed all over the world still sang the Four Questions and ate matzo