Pittsburgh Magazine – Top Pick: A Somber Yet Lovely Centennial Performance from Quantum Theatre.
The two-person musical “The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk” is, in some ways, a curious choice for Quantum Theatre’s 100th production. Unlike most of the company’s shows, it takes place in a fairly typical theatrical environment: a lovely synagogue at Rodef Shalom Congregation. While the company is perhaps most closely associated with big shows in giant settings — their last show was a massive mounting of “Hamlet” in the shadow of the Carrie Furnaces — this production is small, intimate and often quiet.
Tonally, however, it’s a perfect Quantum show. It’s sad yet stirring, artful yet somber — a show of contradictions, complex emotions and uncertainty. That’s the emotional mode this company has honed in on over 100 productions: One that revels in indefinable feeling.
Oh yeah: It’s also a loose, freewheeling biography of the artist Marc Chagall, focusing on his relationship with his wife, the poet Bella Rosenfeld. As the couple falls in love and navigates life during a pair of World Wars, they face discrimination and worse — and, when possible, create light, buoyant art.
It’s a charming, yet earthbound, love story — and simultaneously an exploration of how war and displacement can come to dominate life. As Chagall, Dan Mayhak gives a soulful and searching performance, holding the nuances of the production in his gaze; Zanny Laird’s Rosenfeld is a burst of energy that aptly demonstrates her role as Chagall’s inspiration.
“The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk,” which continues through Nov. 26, coincides with the exhibition “Violins of Hope,” featuring violins recovered from the Holocaust. At a time of war, displacement and tension, the pairing is powerful…