Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Las Vegas

A Public Fit Theatre Company
Review by Mary LaFrance

Jake Staley, Nich Witham, Wilam Fleming,
and Timothy Cummings

Photo by Richard Brusky
Impeccably acted and directed, A Public Fit Theatre Company's current staging of Paula Vogel's Indecent is a gem of a production. Co-directors Ann-Marie Pereth and Joseph D. Kucan combine a brilliant cast with smart pacing, their signature use of creative movement, and ingenious stagecraft (using a combination of scrims, projections, back-lighting, and multi-purposed props assembled and reassembled in myriad ways). There's live music and dancing as well. A production of this caliber would get raves in New York City. Fortunately, Las Vegas residents need only find their way to Valley View Boulevard.

Indecent is based on the true story of a Polish/Yiddish theatre company during the early twentieth century pogroms that paved the way for the Holocaust. The troupe's 1906 production of a new play, Sholem Asch's The God of Vengeance, was highly controversial for its time, depicting a Jewish brothel as well as lesbian love. With violent anti-semitism already on the rise, the play was divisive, especially among Jews who feared that any negative depictions of their community would stoke the flames of persecution. But the play was a success among Yiddish audiences, touring for many years to great acclaim throughout Poland, Germany, and Russia. When it finally reached Broadway in 1923, it was shut down for obscenity–not because it featured a brothel, but because it depicted two women kissing. The disappointed troupe was forced to return to an increasingly dangerous Poland from which they would find no escape. Although it remained divisive, The God of Vengeance became a canon of Yiddish theatre and was famously performed in secret in the basements and attics of the Polish ghettos in defiance of the Nazi regime.

Indecent depicts anti-semitism, the understandable reluctance of oppressed people to engage with self-critical works, the hypocrisy of self-proclaimed moralists, and the plight of asylum seekers facing barriers to emigration despite the imminent threat of death. The play is a timely reminder of the persistence of religious and ethnic persecution as well as the consequences of failing to learn from history. (In an ironic coda, Sholem Asch himself was forced to leave the United States in 1952 when he was targeted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities.)

Indecent's cast is a strong and cohesive ensemble. Special mention should go to Jake Staley as Lemml, the tailor turned stage manager who attempts to assimilate under the Americanized name "Lou" while failing dismally in his attempts to learn English. As the character who draws the audience into the story, Staley makes Lemml astonishingly real. Wilam Fleming, too, is a standout, especially in a lightning-fast montage in which he pleads for refuge in increasing desperation–in multiple languages–at the gates of Warsaw's unresponsive embassies.

Indecent runs through November 20, 2023, at SST Studios, 4340 S. Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas NV. Performances are Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. For tickets ($35-40) and information, please visit go to

Lemml: Jake Staley
Female Ingenue: Nicole Unger
Female Middle: Betsy Norton
Male Ingenue: Nich Witham
Male Middle: Wilam Fleming
Female Elder: Lisa Mandel
Male Elder: Timothy Cummings

Accordion: Botielus
Clarinet: Toby McEvoy
Violin: Arturo Hernandez

Additional Creatives:
Score and Original Music: Lisa Gutkin and Aaron Halva
Sound Designer: Constance Taschner
Costume Designer: Kendra Faith
Music Director: Toby McEvoy
Lighting Designer: Ellen Bone
Choreographer: Tracey Allyn
Scenic Designer: Whitney Lehn Meltz