When Humor Stays Below The Belt

What ‘Old Jews Telling Jokes’ says about us.

Special To The Jewish Week

Knocking both critics and audiences dead with laughter, Peter Gethers’ and Daniel Okrent’s “Old Jews Telling Jokes” is a bona fide hit. The show possesses, according to The New York Times, the “magnificent, enduring rhythm of Jewish humor.” The New Yorker crows that the “laughs-per-minute average is as high as anything you’ll find on stage right now.” And Variety says, simply, “You’ll laugh your tuchus off.” But two months into its Off-Broadway run, does the show deserve all the hype?

In “Old Jews Telling Jokes,” not all the tellers are old but the jokes are. Joan Marcus

Ehrenreich Riding The Brooklyn Wave

Return of ‘A Jews Grows in Brooklyn’ given fresh relevance by new population survey.

Special To The Jewish Week

Call it the Jewish Cape Canaveral. Brooklyn has been the launching pad for so many eminent Jewish Americans — from Arthur Miller to Woody Allen, and from Barbra Streisand to Ruth Bader Ginsburg — that one could hardly imagine America without it. Perhaps this helps to account for the continuing popularity of Jake Ehrenreich’s one-man show, “A Jew Grows in Brooklyn,” which has returned to New York after a record-breaking Off-Broadway run and a North American tour.

Ehrenreich “shortened, deepened and ‘wisened up’” the show over the years. Charlotte Nation

War Rages Inside, And Outside, Hotel Room

Identity and sexual politics in Israel Horovitz’s ‘Beirut Rocks.’

Special To The Jewish Week


A rehearsal for Israel Horovitz's "Beirut Rocks."

A Stage For Jewish Renewal

Theater as a bridge between young artists and the wider communal world.

Special To The Jewish Week

David Winitsky is a theater artist with a mission. In an era in which most of the Jewish repertory companies in New York have folded for lack of support, he views theater written by and for Jews as still essential to the revitalization of the Jewish community.

Jewish Plays Project’s David Winitsky, top, and “Six” playwright Zohar Tirosh-Polk.

Labor Pains

‘Waiting for Lefty’ is back for a new generation.

Special To The Jewish Week

Its premiere was a watershed in American theatrical history, galvanizing an audience caught in the throes of the Great Depression.

Scene from Honest Liars’ production of “Waiting for Lefty.”

Jews And Hues

Special To The Jewish Week

Colorblind people see the world in a different way. In Jessica Fleitman’s “Deuteranomaly,” now playing at the Planet Connections Theater Festivity, a Jewish family struggles with a son’s visual deficit. Based on the scientific term for a relatively mild form of colorblindness — which affects mostly men, making it difficult for them to distinguish between red and green — “Deuteranomaly” uses the boy’s condition as a metaphor for the flaws in human relationships.

Dee Dee Friedman and David J. Goldberg in Jessica Fleitman’s “Deuteranomaly.” Paula D’Alessandris

Simmering On The West Bank

In ‘Food and Fadwa,’ a Palestinian family has a lot to digest.

Special To The Jewish Week

Food sums up the culture and history of a people. Just ask the Palestinian family in Lameece Issaq and Jacob Kader’s seriocomic new play, “Food and Fadwa,” which opens Off-Broadway in the East Village next week. Even as they struggle with life in the West Bank under the Israeli occupation, the family remains bound together by the food that they prepare and eat together. The groundbreaking production is the first by the Noor Theatre Company, an Arab-American collective sponsored by the New York Theatre Workshop.

Issaq with co-author Jacob Kader. Joan Marcus

The Ghost Of Bubby's Past

Special To The Jewish Week

How deeply do we have to bury the past to keep it from erupting into the present? In Andrew Rothkin’s “Bubby’s Shadow,” in which the playwright also stars, the spirit of a deceased grandmother reunites a deeply divided Jewish family and restores its connection to Judaism. The play, an earlier version of which ran Off Broadway in 2008, returns starting June 3 at a theater in the West Village.

Gloria Rosen plays a grandmother who returns from the dead in “Bubby’s Shadow.”

Kafka’s Rage — Toward His Father

Special To The Jewish Week

As they reach maturity, children sometimes feel obliged to pour out their resentment and rage toward their parents, whom they blame for the deficiencies of their childhood. In his vituperative “Letter to My Father,” the Czech Jewish writer Franz Kafka excoriates his father for abusing him both physically and psychologically.

Michael Guagno stars as Franz Kafka in “Letters To My Father.”

The Mame Loshen Has Legs

Special To The Jewish Week

‘Yiddish is my mother language, and a mother is never really dead,” reflected Isaac Bashevis Singer in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1978. Indeed, the mame loshen continues to play a vital role in the cultural life of the city, as one gathers from two overlapping productions running this month — one a translation of a rarely seen Yiddish play, and the other an evening of Yiddish music and poetry. 

Mendy Cahan will perform his “Yiddish Bouquet” next week at Baruch College.
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