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Elegy for Stanley Gorski

It is a pleasure to see a play by the late Manny Fried given a spirited production by the Subversive Theatre Collective. Elegy for Stanley Gorski is the tale of the rise and downfall of an unlikely labor hero. Fried, who had a legendary career as a labor organizer in Buffalo, died last year at the age of 97. This play is brimming with fictionalized versions of people he knew and of Manny himself.

Directed by Kurt Schneiderman, this production features a variety of professional and amateur actors, which gives the proceedings and immediacy and ardor that is very appealing.

As I watched the play, I couldn’t help wonder what kind of career Manny might have had if blacklisting hadn’t prevented him from getting high-profile productions of his plays. His realization of Mrs. Gorski, played with subtlety and fervor by Christina Rausa, is especially compelling. The character’s sister, played by Jane Cudmore, a female police officer, is similarly intriguing and unusual for a play about this period. Richard Hummert stands in as Manny Fried, playing a Jewish labor organizer and narrator. Victor Morales stars in the title role. I appreciated the faithful rendering of a Manny Fried play at a socially committed theater and found myself contemplating the script more than the performances. At the conclusion of the evening, the play, its issues, and its playwright continued to resonate powerfully in my mind.

The production continues through April 7 at the Manny Fried Playhouse (255 Great Arrow Ave., third floor, 408-0499).