REVIEW: INDECENT at the Denver Center

by Mona Lott

When the lights come up and the cast walks onstage in a single file line, it’s obvious that something magical is about to happen. For theater so perfect, magic is the only explanation and Indecent currently playing at the Denver Center Theater is magical, full of surprise, music, misdirection and even a little deception.

Paula Vogel’s play about a play tells a tale about a show written by a Jewish Playwright, Sholem Asch in the early 1900’s. The show, “God of Vengeance” portrays a man who owns a brothel and who has promised his daughter’s hand to a wealthy man. He is surprised and enraged  when he discovers his daughter has fallen in love with one of the women who work for him. The play becomes a hit and tours around Europe without incident even with a scene that shows the girl and her lover sharing a kiss.

The action gets vamped up when the play is brought to America and the  actress playing the young girl is replaced due to her accent being too heavy. What the producers didn’t realize is that the two women living this love story on stage have also fallen in love behind the curtain. The drama is amped up again when this American version of ‘God of Vengeance” is deemed Indecent and edited removing the love scene from the production.

The ramifications of all the drama leaves one wondering if the homophobia is to blame or the anti semitism. Maybe it’s both, we’ll never really know, but that’s the crux of the play and the motor that drives it forward.

Vogel can be assured that her play, Indecent, is not so simple and it raises even more questions about what makes something indecent than what this ninety minute production can answer.  The script for Indecent makes for a great show. What truly makes it magical though is the production and here it’s the production expertly directed by Nancy Keystone.

Keystone has brought together one of the best ensembles to be remembered on a Denver stage in some time. There is not a slouch in the cast and they work together like an oiled machine, deftly switching characters, bravely launching into song and dance and acting with an effortless ease that can only be watched in reverence.

Some of the cast do double duty, not only appearing in the ensemble but in augmenting the play with violin, clarinet and a myriad of instruments that become so enmeshed in the action that their absence would be unconscionable.

Production elements that would otherwise be deemed satisfactory are elevated to such a level that staging, lights, sound, props, costumes, choreography, music and scenic design become characters in themselves and add so much to the energy, the emotion and the communal experience of the play that Indecent amazes with it’s magical theater experience.

All the theatrical components that bring a show to life are working overtime and create so much theatrical magic in The Denver Center’s production of Indecent that one is shocked to remember this is a play and not a performance by Penn and Teller.

INDECENT is enticing audiences now through October 6th at the Space Theatre in the Denver Center Complex. For tickets or more information, contact the Denver Center Box Office by calling 303-893-4100 or online at


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