Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"25 Questions for a Jewish Mother": ☼☼ 1/2 BANG

If you're the costumer's or set designer's union, you can't be crazy about Judy Gold's '25 Questions for a Jewish Mother' -- the entire set is one arm chair and one mike stand and Gold is dressed like -- well, like every other 6'3" Kosher-keeping lesbian comedienne with two children.

But if you're in the audience and you're Jewish, or you married a Jew, or you have a hairdresser named Brenda, or you've lived for half an hour in New York City or Encino, or you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm and cover your eyes, you're gonna howl. Judy Gold starts screeching the minute she walks out onto the stage and says Hah-loooo-wwww ("Hello")! The woman has lived amongst the New Jersey Sector of the Tribe and, sister, she's got their accents down cold.

Gold's primary protagonist, and the source of most of her material, is her mother, who is so worried about the fate of the Jewish people that instead of Good Night Moon she makes her small child Judith read (drum roll) the Pop Up version of the Diary of Anne Frank. Of course, like all Jewish women, Judith is terrified she'll grow up to be just like her Mother. After her children are born (hysterical sketch about ordering a la carte from the Sperm Bank), she discovers, to her horror, that she has.

The voices start to grate after awhile and there is nothing particularly revelatory in the comedy; however, the genius of '25 Questions' is the acting out of the stories of many of the women Gold and her co--writer Kate Moira Ryan actually interviewed in gathering material for the show. These stories are not supposed to make you laugh -- they make you ponder for a moment, before Gold reappears as herself and hits you in the eye with a cream pie. The juxtaposition of broad humor and tragic tales is a brilliant one.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards '25 Questions for a Jewish Mother' a star and a half for Judy Gold and Kate Moira Ryan, because the writing is excellent as well as novel; one more star has to be given to Gold herself for that screech. A BANGLE of Praise is also awarded for what the little doll called George Bush. (HINT: she is now on the Must Search List at all US airports.) Though it's hard to award more stars to a one person, basically one-dimensional comedy routine, '25 Questions' is very, very funny and well worth seeing.

EXTRA OBSERVATION: People with longer legs can sit very comfortably in the aisle seats of the side sections at Marine's Memorial Theater -- the seats slant and your legs can breathe, it's a mitzvah.

'25 Questions for a Jewish Mother'
Marine's Memorial Theater
Sutter and Mason Streets, San Francisco
Tue-Sun through March 23; $39-$49

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