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.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 3, 2009