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A CurtainUp Review
25 Questions For a Jewish Mother
By Elyse Sommer
With the show extending its original run and now headed for a transfer to an as yet to be located theater, I took advantage of its expanded schedule during its final week at Ars Nova. The good news is that Gold IS funny and that with the help of her playwright friend Kate Moira Ryan, she has managed to turn the usual Jewish mother bashing into an often touching memoir of being Gay, a mother (via artificial insemination) and coming to the conclusion that having her fears about turning into her mother aren't quite the nightmarish scenario she always envisioned.
The cross-country interviews by Gold and Ryan span five years and lots of coffee and rugelach are a smart device for deconstructing the negatives in the stereotypical traits associated with mothers like Gold's -- particularly the compulsive need to touch base at least once a day. (This anxious staying in touch is immediately played out via a frantic, needlessly worried phone message from Mama Ruth Gold:"Judith, are you all right? Did you fall down? What happened? Where are you? I'm a wreck. . . So long.")
The questions (I didn't count but I'm pretty sure there were considerably fewer than 25) are addressed to an interesting variety of women, including a Chinese woman who, when asked what her biggest regret was, had none s about her conversion to Judaism except that it landed her in New Jersey -- a regret the New Jersey raised Gold can easily identify with. But while Gold capably assumes the personas of all the interviewees she's not as gifted a mimic as Sarah Jones. Consequently, she's at her best when in her stand-up comic mode (the exception being an out of nowhere recollection about her outrageous, headline making remark at a Howard Dean fund raiser), and the interviews tend to retain their gimmickry.
With just one woman included to respond to the questions posed, having more than one Holocaust survivor seems unbalanced; what's more it points to some confusion as to the ages of these women. The woman who was in a concentration camp with her mother would have to be in her mid-seventies which makes one wonder if she and others were chosen as much for their varying ages as situations.
Under Karen Kohlhaas's intelligent direction there's minimal stage business, with Gold spotlighted at stage left when channeling her stand-up comic self -- and moving to the opposite side of the stage when slipping into her interview characters. Hopefully, the show's next home will again be a small intimate space like Ars Nova which can easily fill up with the niche audience to which it appeals.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
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