Review: ‘In Every Generation’ at TheatreWorks (****)

The Levi-Katz family (l to r: Cindy Goldfield, Olivia Nicole Hoffman, Sarah Lo, Michael Champlin, and Luisa Sermol) celebrates Passover in TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s “In Every Generation,” presented January 18 – February 12 at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.
Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

by Otto Coelho

Reviewed by a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.

A good friend of mine invited me to Passover seder with her family once. I knew that Passover lasted a week, and it told the story of the Israelites’ exodus from enslavement in Egypt and wandering the desert for forty years before reaching The Promised Land.  Up to that point, I’d had little experience with Jewish ritual, but at Passover I expected a lot – prayers, reading from the Torah, ceremonial lighting of candles – something special. It didn’t happen. “I’m Jewish, my husband isn’t,” my friend explained, “so we don’t do the whole thing.” So instead of seeing THE Passover seder ritual, I saw HER Passover ritual. I still saw love, laughter, acceptance, mild complaints (“I don’t want more kugel, Mom!”), and all of the good and not so good that makes up the family dynamic.

Playwright Ali Viterbi guides us on a journey through the Levi-Katz family’s present, past and future Passover seders in TheatreWorks production of “In Every Generation,” now playing at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Don’t even think that you’re seeing the same thing over and over – the Passover ritual is a framework that Viterbi uses to show how much things change, as well as how much they stay the same. The play is densely packed with old wounds, jealousy, laughter, relationships, old secrets and great love. It is well written, often funny, sometimes tense, and very satisfying.

Performances from the ensemble are terrific, particularly those of Olivia Nicole Hoffman and Sarah Lo as sisters Yael and Devorah Levi-Katz, respectively. Both give us characters that are complex and richly layered, and we ache for them at each revelation of old hidden hurts and jealousies. This is not to say that the rest of the cast isn’t excellent – they are. There isn’t a weak performance in the bunch.

Michael Barakiva has directed this wonderful ensemble skillfully. Nina Ball’s sets are gorgeous, as is Kurt Landisman’s lighting. Costumes by Susan Chesney are terrific, and suitable for the many time periods of the piece.

So if you want to see a powerful story of love, faith, belonging, and family, go and see “In Every Generation” at TheatreWorks. You won’t be disappointed.

“In Every Generation” continues at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts through February 12. For more information, click here.

Rating: **** (For an explanation of Theatrestorm’s rating scale, click here.)


“In Every Generation” by Ali Viterbi. Produced by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley. Director: Michael Barakiva. Scenic Design: Nina Ball. Costume Designer: Susanna Chesney. Lighting Designer: Kurt Landisman. Sound Design: Sharath Patel. Projection Designer: Rasean Davonté  Johnson. . Wig and Hair Design: Heather Sterling. Assistant Director/Judaic Consultant: Roneet Aliza Rahamim. Italian Consultant: Beatrice Basso. Movement Consultant: Nicole Helfer. Artist Counselor: Judith Nigei. Intimacy Coordinator: Maya Herbsman.


Devorah (Dev) Levi-Katz: Sarah Lo. Yael Levi-Katz: Olivia hicole Hoffman. Paola Levi: Luisa Sermol. Valeria Levi: Cindy Goldfield. Davide Levi: Michael Champlin.

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