From Apr ’06 Spotlight: The DePaul Theatre School did a weeklong run of Alfred Uhry’s wonderful play The Last Night of Ballyhoo in February, at the Merle Reskin Theatre on Balbo. I went to the Thursday-night performance on Feb. 16, but unfortunately the audience Q&A we’d been promised at the end was canceled due to bad weather. No matter, the hardy souls around me were treated to an excellent production directed by Trudie Kessler, with Jason Karasev particularly noteworthy in the role of “Joe Farkas.”
Like Uhry’s best-known play, Oscar-winner Driving Mrs. Daisy, Ballyhoo is set in mid-century Atlanta, where longtime Jewish residents with German roots find themselves delicately poised in a racist hierarchy between the Protestants “above” them and the African Americans “below” them. Joe is a newcomer from the North whose Yiddish-inflected accent provokes an identity crisis in the class-conscious Freitag family.