Words and Wings: YCDS’ “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” Makes Headlines
“DUCK HUNTER SHOOTS ANGEL.” With a title like that, even the most avid theatergoer is left scratching their head: What could the play possibly be about? What possessed the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society (YCDS) to choose it for their mainstage production and why should I be interested in seeing it?
Well, the title isn’t a metaphor, it’s a headline — and once that’s clear, the title really does say it all. Cynical reporter Sandy (Yaacov Siev) and his photographer Lenny (Kyle Harris) are forced to chase the story of two brothers in Alabama, Duane and Duwell (Kesser Frankiel and Matan Shilat, respectively), who think they accidentally shot an angel. Billed as a comedy, the show is undeniably funny (albeit a bit racy — leave your kids at home for this one, folks); but the real jewel of this play is not its surface plot, or even its comedy; it is Mitch Albom’s exploration of thought-provoking themes that are shockingly relevant for a YU audience, and the heartfelt way that YCDS guides us through those themes.
Siev deftly balances Sandy’s cynicism and vulnerabilities to create a character that is unbelievably real and undeniably human. Frankiel gives us the quintessential hillbilly with an accent and demeanor that even a Texas-raised Southerner like myself will find believable. Shilat’s Dewell is wide-eyed and childlike, with a simple-mindedness that is both hilariously vacant and surprisingly insightful. “Gas-Mart” cashier Kansas, played by Adam Alsberg, brings a youthful, infectious energy, Matthew Silkin’s tabloid owner Lester is the entitled sleaze we expect him to be and Harris’ Lenny simply tells it like it is. And then, there’s Herschel Seigel’s Alligator Man. You’ll have to see the show to even try to understand the Alligator Man.
YCDS’ technical and creative team create an onstage world as captivating as the characters that inhabit it. The breathtaking set, created by Zvi Teitelbaum, looks and feels like a genuine slice of swampland, rigged with some delightfully surprising special effects, and brought to life with help from lighting engineer Zachary Greenberg and sound engineer David Levene. The show’s costumes, designed and managed by Channah Bickford, and props, by Shai Yastrab and Natan Samson, are simple and straightforward, telling the story without drawing focus away from the characters. All of these elements are masterfully orchestrated by director Lin Snider, and overseen by technical director Benjy Kleiner and stage managers Elazar Krausz and Sarah Ben-Nun.
As Sandy is knocked off his high horse by two bumbling rednecks and forced to reconsider his past — and his future — audiences will embark on a journey even crazier than the title makes it sound. Could the timing of certain moments be tighter? Perhaps. Could certain characters’ accents be sharper? Definitely. But YCDS more than makes up for their few technical flaws — or in Sandy’s words, the “mistakes” that smack us through life — with an evening full of surprises, full of laughter and, above all, full of heart.
Upcoming performances of “Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” will take place on April 6 at 9:30 p.m., on April 7 at 3:00 p.m. and on April 8, 9, 10 and 11 at 9:00 p.m. To purchase tickets for the show, visit https://ycds.ticketleap.com/.
Photo Caption: YCDS performs "Duck Hunter Shoots Angel” in the Schottenstein Theater in Washington Heights.
Photo Credit: YCDS