Indianapolis Civic Theatre; through Feb. 5. Directed by Jennifer Loia Alexander. Civic Theatre takes a step beyond its comfort zone with The Last Night of Ballyhoo. The superficiality of Southern culture circa 1939 is the lens through which pre-WWII anti-Semitism is examined.
The twist: the well-to-do Southern family at the center of the story are themselves Jewish but not, in their word, "the other kind." A boldly chosen script with few bold directorial choices causes theatrical elements to work against each other throughout.
While the cast gives quirky, intimate and inviting performances, their work is undercut by a cavernous set too far upstage. Director Alexander lets both the audience and the characters off the hook too easily in moments of heightened conflict.
The show's neat, packaged ending with more interest in the family's ignorance of their Jewish heritage rather than the possibility of filling this void allows patrons to leave feeling contented instead of challenged. Indianapolis Civic Theatre is located at 3200 Cold Spring Rd. For more information visit www.civictheatre.org.