Review: ‘Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story’ a captivating, “Broadway-caliber” piece of theatre

Ben Caplan performs in Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story. The show runs at Persephone Theatre from Oct. 12 to Oct. 23. The show is part of the inaugural Saskatchewan Jewish Arts Festival in 2022. (Supplied / Photo courtesy of 2b theatre company)

The largest travesty and shame of the preview night performance of Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story on Wednesday is that it was not a full theatre. This ethereal story is a haunting and humorous tale both raw and heartwarming that does not fail to astound and should not be missed.

With original songs by Ben Caplan and Christian Barry, the story revolves around Chaya (Shaina Silver-Baird) and Chaim (Eric Da Costa), Jewish refugees from Romania who meet as they arrive in Canada. Their journey bears the weight of those who have lost loved ones, those who have fled violence, and those who seek a new home and are told that they do not belong.

The love story is narrated by The Wanderer (Ben Caplan), a mysterious, wise, and hilariously crude singing traveller.

Backed by a band of four, two of whom play Chaya and Chaim, Ben Caplan rips up the stage with his energy and powerful voice. He is captivating and seamlessly walks the line of humour and heart.

Shaina Silver-Baird’s performance holds similar gravitas as the charming and powerful Chaya. She brings tears, smiles, and laughter for the audience. Eric Da Costa rounds out the cast wonderfully as the loveable and silly Chaim.

One notable moment is a song about the Bible and oral tradition. In a fun, toe-tapping tune, The Wanderer posits that oral tradition is given to avoid “undue rigidity.” He then invites the audience to sing and clap along as the rousing melody and lyrics insist that “the good book is only a lens to focus a view,” which emphasizes the overall message of recognizing humanity and goodness in the world around you.

 

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