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Writing for CurtainUp NYC Weather
|A CurtainUp Review
Do you have to be Jewish to enjoy this show by Rich Orloff?
Oy, why do you ask such questions when you've got four talented tumlers in Orloff's shtik de resistance, "A Trolley Named Tsuras" by Tennessee Williams masquerading as Brooklyn Williamsburg. Heather Goldenhersh as Stella wallows in comic despair over an ironing board and Lee Wilkof is a droll nebbish (nonentity) of a Stanley looking as if hadn't quite towelled off the sweat from his earlier steam bath routine on this show's title Yiddishism. Frank Vlastnik appears briefly as the playwright's standin. Elaine Bromka plays the yenta (gossip) next door who helps Stella to stop wallowing in misery over Stanley's mysterious ten-year-old mistake and tries to entice Stanley with assorted Yiddish goodies.
In the title piece (with Wilkof, Vlastnik and the fifth comic of the ensemble, Matthew Arkin) you need only study the men's punim (faces) and body language to plotz (burst) with laughter. Unfortunately, like too many of thesesketches, Oy doesn't know when to quit and in fact reprises itself with dialogue at the beginning of Act II.
Yes, there are two acts, which brings us to the next question. Can shtick variation on Yiddishisms keep you in stitches for an hour and a half?
Oy, veh! If you laughed without interruptiont, you'd have such a belly ache you'd be moaning oh veh is mir. So let me put it this way. The Tennessee Williams spoof is priceless. Word Play is an amusing and apt show opener. "Chaim in the A.M." (pronounced cheyem in the eyem) in which Wilkof as the host of a radio talk show has an on-air sparring match with his son (Matthew Arkin) is, like Streetcar to Tsuris, a complete little playlet. It also adds an underlying touch of genuine pathos to the proceedings . And so, if you're a mensch (a kind and decent person), perhaps you can sit through the other overcooked and not so funny bits without getting shpilkes (restless).
To add to the pluses, there's some sweetly played Klezmer music by James Jacobs (cello) and Ed Covi (reeds), to which the cast occasionally dances. John Coyne's cartoon-colored set is simple and bright -- with two clothes lines, one on which to hang some of the props and one for the letters of the words the comedians hang up at the beginning of each skit. Sue Gandy's costumes are notable mainly for their color coordination with the set. Director Lori Steinberg who also helmed the Melting Pot Company's terrific first production, The Pioneer Prairie Show, does her best to keep this amiable but slight revue as light and fluffy as your bubi's (grandma's) matzoh balls.