Someone needs to tell the audience at the Lyric Stage Company’s superb production of “My Name is Asher Lev” that it’s OK to laugh. There’s some uproarious familial dysfunction going on and yet their reluctance to enjoy it is almost palpable.
In lesser hands, Aaron Posner’s overly-wrought adaption of Chaim Potok’s 1972 novel could easily become mired in its own melodrama. But director Scott Edmiston masterfully walks the fine line between truth and schmaltz with a stellar cast whose unwavering commitment makes it feel painfully authentic.
The core of this production’s success is the stunning performance of Anne Gottlieb as Asher’s mother. She embodies the essence of a woman torn between love of her son, dedication to her husband and devotion to Judaism. Joel Colodner is perfectly cast in dual roles as Asher’s father and his mentor. Though delightful when sparring with Asher (Jason Schuchman), Colodner’s mentor character has a wisdom and appeal that makes him the most likable character on stage.
‘My Name is Asher Lev’
Through March 12
140 Clarendon St., Boston