Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ed and The Flowering Peach

Through the magic of Facebook, I've lately made contact with my old college friend Ed.  I am happy to report that Ed seems to be thriving.  After years of grinding labor in Cleveland, he's now securely ensconced in Pompano Beach, full of years and honors and surrounded by family and projects.

 Particularly theatre: Ed has rekindled his youthful affinity for the stage.  These days he is producing, including Jersey Boys (well: by his own account, one of 75).  But in fact,  I remember his on-stage  career.  I told him that I think the last time I laid eyes on him, he was a son of Noah, lamenting "what am I without my money?" (Ed was Shem, Noahs eldest, on the make).     That was 53 years ago; I wondered if Ed would remember.   Quicker than you can say "okay animals, two by two," he responded:
THE FLOWERING PEACH is a favorite play. I wonder why it has never been revived. Also remember that we had to eat "biblical" food when we were on stage...dates, figs, etc...and one night the ark wheels got stuck on a fig...took four folks to get it moving...Glad you recall the play, and it brought back many memories. 

Right, the The Flowering Peach.   Not that I remembered; nor did I remember that it was by Clifford Odets, still a name in our youth, hardly a memory today.  Well, at least a memory: I remember seeing an Odets on Broadway just a few years back, though I don't think its hearty proletarianism wore very well.

The Flowering Peach is perhaps a slightly different animal.  It's a warm-hearted (yech) family comedy.   That is, Jewish family comedy--only the Jews here sound less like the Fertile Crescent than they do like the Lower East Side.  I remember it fondly also and like Ed, I would be glad to see it again. But wait: for a comedy from Second Avenue, how would you find a cast, unless you can get Jackie Mason to take a victory lap?

Translated,  I suspect it is a cultural remnant that has been lost--maybe a whole cultural world.  This is the tail end of the great immigrant generation, the memory of the holocaust still warm, the bitterness of postwar politics still stopping the breath of the old loyalists (Odets himself had gone over to the dark side, losing the sustenance he had enjoyed among the lefty companions of his youth).   Ed and his classmates could do it not because they spoke much Yiddish (I suspect that none of them knew any but catch-phrases)--but because at least they had heard people from the generation of their parents and grandparents.  I can't imagine how you would recreate that knowledge today.

Still, it could be fun to try. There was even a musical version, with Danny least as much of a stretch as Jackie Mason.  If only we knew someone with the grit and determination to take it on as a producer.  Hello, Ed?  Hello?  Hello?

No comments: