For years academics have been arguing over what makes today’s Russian Jews Jewish. Religion? Language? Yiddishkait? No.
Based on personal stories of its young performers and writers, Covers is a multigenerational family drama: immigrant parents worry about their son, whose career climb is thwarted by a mental breakdown, and the cousins next door grapple with the death of their grandfather.
Always present in these dramas is Russian literature. Lots of it. Piled up on tables and floors and flung across the stage, some of these books are even used as sex toys. At the play’s end, in a lyrical denouement, each character, including the grandfather’s ghost, recite Russian poetry until their voices blend into a chorus.
In contrast with some of the immigration dramas of yesteryear, such as The Melting Pot by Israel Zangwill, Covers delivers no celebratory message of America the beautiful. Instead, the characters keep questioning their choices as they vacillate between nostalgia and resentment. They lost the old home, but what did they find in the new one? And who did they become in the process?