The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings






Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
Handle With Care

"The Jews invented the Chinese calendar?"—Terrence
Handle With Care
Sheffield Chastain (rear), Jonathan Sale, Carol Lawrence, Charlotte Cohn (Photo: Douglas Denoff)
Jason Odell Williams' Handle With Care takes a formulaic Christmas story complete with bad weather, love and magic and —get this —adds some Jewish people. The result has all the originality and schmaltz of your aunt's well-intentioned holiday card. In fact, it's generally the sort of play your aunt would like, which is not necessarily a bad thing, if you happen to be your aunt.

It starts, as these things do, on Christmas Eve. We're at a skuzzy motel in Nowhere, Virginia. A grandma is dead, and her body, naturally, is missing. But this isn't a murder mystery, remember, this is a romantic comedy. So get ready for this situation to be milked for its fullest comic potential (not much) for the next hour and 45 minutes.

To help us do that, here's Terrence (Sheffield Chastain), the hapless delivery man who's responsible for this zany screw-up. And here's Ayelet (Charlotte Cohn), the very distraught adult Israeli granddaughter of this woman, who doesn't really speak English, but nonetheless wants some answers. And here's Josh, Terrence's sweatered Jewish American friend, who may be just sensible enough and just Jewish enough to both diffuse this situation and woo this spirited Semitic broad.

And of course, the pieces are all in place here for that to happen. Ayelet is grieving the loss of her grandmother and a breakup with some lug back in the Promised Land. Josh is still mourning his wife, who died tragically a year and a half ago. Now, did I mention they're both Jewish? And single? And trapped in a motel room in Virginia on a blizzardy Christmas Eve?

Oh, there are laughs to be had, sure. Josh and Ayelet are dorky in a very controlled, mannered way (You've got to hear Josh's Owen Wilson impression —classic). Edna (the lovely Carol Lawrence), who we meet in flashbacks to the day before, is a hoot, in the very particular way that Israeli grandmothers who get excited about Wheel of Fortune are a hoot. And Terrance, that lovable Southern clown, is bound to have the Upper West Side set in stitches. The guy just simply can't wrap his head around the idea of the Jewish calendar, or really anything Jewish for that matter. Silly Terrance.

Like the good seasonal play that it is, the whole thing ends on a note of redemption, warmth and holiday cheer. There's even a family secret, and a crazy coincidence that might just blow the yarmulke right off your head. Or is it not really a coincidence at all, but rather a miracle?

Yes, I suppose it's a miracle. Why not? It's that time of year, and this is that type of play. Take your aunt to see it. Heck, take your whole mishpocha and then go to the Carnegie Deli afterward. Or, if you're not one of the chosen people, you can see it and then check out the tree at Rockefeller Center, though I'm not sure why you would do that. Who am I to say, though? Do what you like! It's the holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! God bless us, everyone!

Handle With Care
Written by Jason Odell Williams
Directed by Karen Carpenter
Cast: Sheffield Chastain (Terrence), Charlotte Cohn (Ayelet), Carol Lawrence (Edna), Jonathan Sale (Josh)
Set Design: David L. Arsenault
Lighting Design: Cory Pattak
Sound Design: Jill DuBoff
Costume Design: Martin T. Lopez
Production Manager: Derek Johnson
Running Time: 105 minutes with intermission
The Westside Theatre, 407 W. 43rd St., New York, NY 10036 (212) 239-6200
Beginning 12/3/2013, opening 12/15/2013
Performance times: Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm and 8pm; Thursday and Friday at 8pm; Sunday at 3pm
Ticket cost: $79
Reviewed by Jordan G. Teicher at 12/12/2013 performance.
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of Handle With Care
  • I disagree with the review of Handle With Care
  • The review made me eager to see Handle With Care
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

For a feed to reviews and features as they are posted add to your reader
Curtainup at Facebook . . . Curtainup at Twitter
Subscribe to our FREE email updates: E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message. If you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
The New Similes Dictionary
New Similes Dictionary

Slings & Arrows  cover of  new Blu-Ray cover
Slings & Arrows- view 1st episode free

Book Of Mormon MP4 Book of Mormon -CD
Our review of the show

©Copyright 2013, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from