The performers deliver an emotional wallop, but the show suffers the same problem inherent in adapting any literary work in which the manner of the telling is as integral as the story itself. Foer's sprawling, distinctively stylized novel employed Alex and Jonathan as dual narrators. A streamlined 2005 film version by Liev Schreiber limited the focus to Alex's point of view.
To its credit, Block's play illuminates more of Jonathan's internal journey, but that proves double-edged. In particular, his imagined lives of his distant ancestors and meditations on writing itself are steeped in literary eloquence — they read beautifully on the page but in live presentation remain stubbornly closer to recital than dramatic performance.