Lillian Yuralia

by Barbara Eda-Young

directed by Austin Pendleton

l-r: Barbara Eda Young, Ben Hammer, John Magaro 

The play, a finalist at the Humana Festival and winner of a 2001 Berrilla Kerr Grant, is set on the Lower East Side in 1930. Lillian, a former star of the Yiddish Theater (or so she says) has lived for many years with her lover Jake in a top floor flat of a brownstone. Across the hall, Levy, a refugee from the Russian Pale, lives in a room alone and isolated. All of his family lost in a pogrom, he has shut himself off from the world. When the play begins Lillian stands in her empty front room. With the sudden death of Jake, who has failed to make any provision for them, she now finds herself and their teenage son, Yidl, destitute. Obliged to live off the charity of distant relatives, they are about to leave the only home they've known. Church bells begin to ring the hour. Desperately playing for time she makes tea for her son, and in her cup, she pours an overdose of laudanum. Soon Yidl will begin a frantic pounding on Levy's door. A door he has never opened to anyone. The play, then, is how the mother and son's visit opens the door to the old man's heart and how the boy, silently suffering from his mother's tragic turn of events, finds his voice. HB Playwrights Foundation mounted the play last January, directed by Austin Pendleton. Reviews are not cultivated by HB Playwrights Foundation, but letters swarmed in attesting to the beauty and power of the piece. One testified, "I loved this play. A story of family and the complex relationship between Mother and Son. A story of loss and its effects, a story of different kinds of courage and fortitude, a story of a time and culture that today's society should not forget." Others called the play "absolutely extraordinary…the best thing I've seen in years…an incredible play…heartbreaking and beautiful." Audiences are accustomed to plays about Jews on the Lower East Side having the veracity of real stories, since so many are based on actual history. This one has the resonance of history, but the power of fancy. The author testifies that the play is part dream part imagination and a little family history. Ms. Eda-Young will appear at La MaMa in the title role. Levy, the neighbor, will be played by Broadway veteran Ben Hammer and Yidl will be played by John Magaro.


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 11/30/2008 at 8:00pm

Theatre/Venue La MaMa Experimental Theatre 

74A East 4th St  New York

Phone Number for Reservations 212-475-7710 
Website for reservations  
Running time 1hr. 5min. 


Producing Organization: LaMaMa Experimental Theater Club  
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