By Ben Togut
The threat of antisemitic violence, both past and present, looms throughout Prayer for the French Republic by Joshua Harmon, now running at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on Broadway. A portrait of a family in crisis, one of the three-act epic’s great strengths is its dynamic ensemble cast, who embody the humor and pathos at the heart of Harmon’s timely play.
As Elodie, the eldest daughter of the Salomon-Benhamou family, Francis Benhamou is delightfully sardonic as she defends and rails against her family’s antics and staunchly held beliefs throughout the play. Anthony Edwards gives a commanding performance as Patrick Salomon, who recounts his family’s struggle with antisemitism yet struggles with the religiosity and growing anxieties of his sister’s family.
The scenic design by Takeshi Kata is an undeniable highlight, working seamlessly with the play’s alternating timelines, as the Benhamous’ apartment transforms back and forth between Paris of the present day and the 1940s with ease. It elegantly complements David Cromer’s staging, which places the anxieties that the Salomon-Benhamou family confronts in the past and present in conversation with each other and highlights that the struggle against antisemitism is a constant one.
An urgent story of faith and family, Prayer for the French Republic is a thought-provoking and necessary production.
Running at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through February 18, 2024. For more information and tickets, click here.