Documenting Family at the Festival of Jewish Theater

In 1937, Alexander S. Wiener discovered the Rh factor and nearly won a Nobel Prize. Though his daughter Jane became a psychologist and passionate artist, her father's professional shadow suffocated her, and it still has a hold on Jane's son, Edward Einhorn. An outsider in a family that collects doctorates, Einhorn tried an experiment of his own—writing and directing Doctors Jane & Alexander, a docu-play that mixes history lessons, family melodrama, and meditations on "found text."

Einhorn, though, devotes too much to the latter, hardly scratching the surface of his fascinating scientist/composer/detective grandfather. The cast struggles to perform music written by Wiener himself, and stages interviews, e-mail exchanges, and imagined conversations all engineered by Einhorn. The result is annoyingly self-referential: "I had to take out the pauses," Edward's play-self (Jason Liebman) explains after the re-enactment of a speech by a post-stroke Jane (a convincing Alyssa Simon), "to make it tolerable for the audience." Unfortunately, there's more to it all than that.

 
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