Gimpel the Fool follows poor orphan-boy Gimpel, a man who believes everything that anyone says, no matter what the outcome may be. He sees the good in all people and trusts without question because if he were to lose trust in people, he fears he would lose trust in God. This simple tale was originally written as a short Yiddish story in 1953 by Isaac Bashevis Singer to articulate that it is better to be a fool for a lifetime than become evil for even an hour.
Gimpel’s gullibility gets him into more trouble than his kind hearted soul deserves to ever be in, making him truly a sympathetic character and making the show a very tragic comedy. The audience can’t help but laugh, or at least chuckle, at some of the sad absurdities that happen to Gimpel because of his naivety.
Gimpel the Fool is a one man show with Howard Rypp at the helm as Gimpel. Rypp was really strong off the start and held a command over the stage with his soft spoken voice and movement around the stage, however as the show progressed there were moments that seemed to slightly unravel. The last half was definitely a touch rougher than the opening and Rypp’s storytelling started to become more robotic as if he was struggling to remember his exact lines.
Gimpel the Fool relies heavily on sound cues and recorded voices to carry on conversations with Rypp’s portrayal of the titular characters, so it’s important that they are on point, and they were. In fact I was really impressed by the sound, lighting and music of this show. Rypp responded much more positively as Gimpel when he was engaged in conversation than when it was just doing his storytelling. The music was also light and airy adding frivolity to the rather dark lies Gimpel was choosing to believe.
The biggest problem with Gimpel the Fool is that the plot isn’t really held together by much and the ending is less than satisfactory lacking finality or any sense of closure for our poor character Gimpel.
While the cultural aspect and character of Gimpel are very interesting to take in, the play, which had the potential to be good was closer to being just mediocre.
Simon’s 2 Cents: Gimpel the Fool had heart… it just lacked a pulse.