[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of the 6th Act’s production of Sukkot, written by Matthew Leavitt, directed by Joel Zwick, starring Natalie Lander, Liza Seneca, Andy Robinson and Jonathan Slavin.
The 6th Act is absolutely one of my favorite Los Angeles theatre companies. Always surprising, never boring, and consistently excellent. I have been waiting, rather impatiently if I’m honest, for them to resume their wonderful journey through the world of plays, and at last their new production is upon us. And how fitting it is that Sukkot is a new play by their wonderful and very charming co-artistic director, Matthew Leavitt.
It’s hard for me not to have high expectations of the 6th Act…sorry. But I am happy to report that Sukkot is of course utterly brilliant! A comedy about death…what a perfect comeback! Set at the home of a beloved father who one year ago lost his wife of many years. She was also the mother to their three imperfect and slightly nutty children who, upon returning home, discover that their father has built a tent, or “Suk” in their back garden and expects them all to sleep in it with him for the next seven days to celebrate the Sukkot holiday of joy. This is a much forgotten and rarely celebrated Jewish holiday, but this Sukkot is really a way for him to try to move forward from his profound loss and give them all something else to gather for, rather than an anniversary of a death.
Chaos and hilarity ensue, as well as some well-crafted and beautifully acted deep soul searching. There’s also a good deal of dark, dry humor and lashings of sarcasm…enough to make my English heart sing in fact.
Matthew Leavitt has written something hilariously true and heartfelt and also managed somehow to imbue it with moments of aching poignancy skilfully pocketed amongst the funny and the painful.
Sukkot is an absolutely brilliant observational comedy about family and grief and pain and love how the waves of all those things can hit us over and over again without warning or rhyme or reason. It’s also a fascinating observation about people who have the same DNA, the same parents, the same childhood, and the same collective history… and yet still turn out entirely different from one another …how very strange that is. I’ve noticed many times lately when I am with my now aging siblings how we all have such different memories of the same events. So much so that we can hardly tell which one of us is closer to the truth. Perhaps that is the point though. Our own minds simply craft memories, they are not photographs or video entries, they are sketches, post-it-notes and stories we tell ourselves.
The 6th Act’s Sukkot is a richly drawn and beautiful play celebrating both our diversity and our similarity. Our losses and our triumphs, our connections and our habits of fighting with them. It’s about our collective familial ties and how even when we strain against the bonds of family we deeply deeply need them…yes we do.
Sukkot honors our love for one another, even as it rails against it…and isn’t that family in a nutshell?
This wonderful play is running at the Skylight Theatre in Los Feliz until February 4, do yourself the favor of spending the evening with these fantastically talented actors in the gorgeous world the fiercely talented Mr Leavitt has created for them under the gifted guidance of his director Joel Zwick.
January 13 through February 4, 2024
The Skylight Theatre
1816 1/2 N Vermont Ave. Hollywood, CA 90027