Thursday, February 2, 2023

Jewish history, traditions explored in 'In Every Generation'


Three generations celebrate Passover in 2019. (Kevin Berne photo)

What does it mean to be Jewish and how have Jews managed to survive and maintain their traditions?

In the 2022 “In Every Generation,” presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, playwright Ali Viterbi explores these questions and others over the years of a multi-generational family’s Passover dinners.

Before the show opens, significant events in Jewish history, going back to 1416 BCE, are displayed as supertitles on the proscenium.

It then starts in 2019 in Los Angeles as Valeria Levi (Cindy Goldfield) hosts a Seder in her modern apartment for her parents, Paola (Luisa Sermol) and Davide  Levi (Michael Champlin), and daughters, Yael Levi-Katz (Olivia Nicole Hoffman) and Devorah Levi-Katz (Sarah Lo).

Paola and Davide, who uses a wheelchair because of ALS, are Italian immigrants. Devorah is Chinese and adopted. Family dynamics are evident as rituals are observed and traditional foods eaten.

Action then goes back to 1954, when Paola and Davide are Italian newlyweds who have escaped the Holocaust and have moved to a modest apartment in Los Angeles.

It then fast-forwards to 2050. Devorah, now a gay rabbi, and Yael, a doctor, are celebrating with their mother, Valeria.

Like her father in the first scene, she uses a wheelchair and can’t speak, but modern technology enables her to project her thoughts onto a tablet. Therefore, when her daughters squabble, she implores them to stop.

By this time, anti-Semitic events throughout the country have left the family super-cautious.

The setting segues to the Exodus in the Sinai Desert in 1416 BCE. The five family members express hopes of “next year in Jerusalem” after the Jews’ ordeal in Egypt.

Director Michael Barakiva has assembled an outstanding ensemble cast with each of the five actors creating believable characters at different ages.

Nina Ball’s set, with lighting by Kurt Landisman, defines changing times and circumstances.

Costumes are by Suzanne Chesney with sound by Sharath Patel.

Running about two hours with an intermission, this interesting, informative play will continue through Feb. 12 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View.

For tickets and information, call (877) 662-8978 or visit