Clifford Odets painted a loving portrait of the Berger family in the darkest days of the Great Depression. Three generations live together in their Bronx apartment. Matriarch Bessie (Deborah Strang) is a feisty, loyal woman who's capable of terrible things if she believes they're in her family's best interests. Her husband, Myron (Joel Swetow), is "a born follower"; her daughter Henny (Molly Leland) is pregnant by a man who has dumped her; and son Ralph (Adam Silver) is in love with a girl he can't afford to marry. But it's the grandfather, Jake (the wonderful Len Lesser), who is the household's soul, and delivers the play's message of hope and desperate optimism: "
take the world in your two hands and make it like new. Go out and fight so life shouldn't be printed on dollar bills." Jake is an old Marxist who loves his Beethoven records and his grandson, Ralph. Director Andrew J. Traister captures the play's potent blend of love, longing and frustration, along with its lyricism and zest for language. The cast includes Daniel Reichert as Moe, the man Henny loves; David Lengel as the sad-sack immigrant she marries; and Adam Blumenfeld as plutocratic Uncle Morty. They are all terrific. A Noise Within, 234 South Brand Boulevard, Glendale; in rep, call for schedule. (818) 240-0910, ext. 1, ANoiseWithin.org.
Sat., March 20, 8 p.m.; Sun., March 21, 2 p.m.; Wed., March 24, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., March 28, 2 & 7 p.m.; March 31-April 1, 8 p.m.; Fri., April 23, 8 p.m.; May 6-7, 8 p.m.; Sat., May 8, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., May 23, 2 & 7 p.m., 2010