What was that name again?
The two acts of Daniel Goldfarb’s Sarah, Sarah work as bookends of a 40-year story span, with two specific incidents anchoring the story on each side. For their season opener, the winning cast at B Street Theatre brings this story arc to life despite weaknesses in Goldfarb’s script that eventually dilute the intended impact.
It works like this: Goldberg takes two events in character Arthur Grosberg’s life and tries to link them together while exploring family, religion, roots, generational relationships and long-held secrets.
Act One takes place in 1961 Toronto, when Arthur’s mother, Sarah (Amy Resnick), a blunt-talking buttinksi, invites his fiancée, Rochelle (Dana Brooke Friedman), over—to try and derail the marriage. What emerges is a character study of Sarah, a Jewish immigrant with strong views on family, class, nationality, religion and upward mobility—all areas in which she believes Rochelle doesn’t measure up. It’s a funny and insightful scene, with added help from quirky character Vincent (David Silberman) and a young Arthur (Zac Jaffee).
The same cast members as different characters come back for Act Two, which is based in China, 40 years later. This is where the play starts to derail. Though there are memorable scenes between an older Arthur (Silberman) and his daughter Jeannie (Resnick) during an adoption procedure, it answers few questions and veers off into an unnecessary contrived ending. The saving grace is a strong first half, compelling performances and good intentions, all under the supervision of director Buck Busfield.