Faith and Philosophy Face Off

Faith and Philosophy Face Off
Pictured L to R: Hannah Benitez, Javier Del Riego, Stephen G. Anthony, Abdiel Vivancos, Larry Bramble, Gregg Weiner, Natalia Coego

*Excerpt from Miami New Times review by John Thomason:

“Ives seems to suggest Spinoza was to philosophy what Mozart was to music – a brilliant, youthful disrupter. And he’s given the philosopher dialogue that’s so unabashedly lyrical that if it came from anyone else, it would seem purple and pompous. But it rolls of Vivancos’ tongue with ease, beauty, sly humor, and the confidence of someone who knows he’s right.”

“The format of New Jerusalem is similar to that of a modern courtroom drams (albeit one in which the verdict is pretty much rigged). Director Joseph Adler paces the action accordingly and invisibly – points and counterpoints fly with the rat-a-tat-tat excitement of a machine gun. Adler’s direction is breathless but easy to follow…”

New Jerusalem is about reason, faith, and intolerance, but it is most profoundly about how persuasive arguments can enlighten minds. Isn’t that what we look for in any great play?

Read the full review here.


*Excerpt from The Miami Herald review by Christine Dolen:

“David Ives’ New Jerusalem is set in 1656, and it’s about the herem of excommunication, of philosopher Baruch de Spinoza from Amsterdam’s Talmud Torah congregation. But as director Joseph Adler’s new production at GableStage demonstrates, the 2008 Off-Broadway play is no stuffy historical drama.

“What makes New Jerusalem worth watching, even for those who know little about the rationalist many consider the most relevant 17th century philosopher, are the company’s largely powerful performances and the play’s many resonant human moments. Those would include betrayal by a friend, the hopelessness of a forbidden love, understanding twisted into vengeance.”

Vivancos is a fascinating Spinoza, a questing and gentle spirit who finds God in places his accusers would never consider. His delight in following the exploratory trails of his ideas shows as radiance on his face. yet when faced with banishment from family and community, from all that he has known, he’s strong and stoic.”

Read the full review here.


*Excerpt from review by Bill Hirschman:

“Vivancos, former Miamian who appeared in GableStage’s Masked, creates a fascinatingly flawed protagonist. His Spinoza exudes a likable charisma and a blithe self-destructiveness pursuing what he knows his community will consider heresy. Holy energy and passion virtually shine from Vivancos.”

“But the strongest work of the evening comes from Bramble who has made a modest reputation playing classic Jewish seniors at Broward Stage Door. Finally given a meaty role as well as a fine director, Bramble delivers a powerful presence as Spinoza’s only intellectual equal. A stern rectitude emanates from Bramble’s rabbi but we later see his deep affection for his prize pupil. The final scenes in which Mortera must knowingly abrogate his intellectual integrity for the good of the community is an enviable piece of acting.”

Read the full review here.


Abdiel Vivancos as Baruch de Spinoza