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My Mother's Italian My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy, a CurtainUp solo play review CurtainUp
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A CurtainUp Review
My Mother's Italian My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy

They tried to kill us, God saved us, let's eat.— Steve Solomon remembers how his Italian mother understood the Jewish holidays.


Steve Solomon is an amiable middle-aged man of stocky build with a balding pate. He is dressed casually in jeans and a sport jacket, as he awaits the arrival of Dr. Asshole (he spells the name but pronounces it differently), the latest in a long line of therapists that he has tried. He is alone (and remains alone) in the nicely furnished office (attributed to the design artistry of Ray Klausen) mostly because this is a one-man show. So we know from the get-go that no therapist is going to show up. That's the funniest part.



There is a phone that will become quite useful. There is also a piano (isn't there one in every analyst's office?) where Solomon sits down on a couple of occasions and tickles out a few melodious bars. Solomon, who is adept at adopting the Italian and Jewish-American voices of his parents and those of his assorted relatives, spends 85 minutes talking to us. So here we are with a very self-serving soul, as he proceeds to demonstrate not only his gift for dialect and random gab but his ability to recycle old and very familiar jokes. Otherwise, he offers us an overly generous recap of his life growing up in a family notable for its bi-ethnic diversity and for its aptitude for dysfunctional behavior.

A former teacher, Solomon will remind some (of a certain age) of Sam Levinson, another teacher turned stand-up comic-monologist popular on television in the 1950s. Mostly he affixes a distinctly indistinctive mark on the stand-up profession, as his homespun reminiscences and dialectic shtick begin to pale. One might correctly suspect that Solomon, who has (according to his press release) been playing to sold-out engagements around the country, would find his most receptive audiences in senior citizen centers, nursing homes, cruise ships and the like. If it is a stretch for him to play the Little Shubert Theater (which has been in dire need of a tenant for some time), the real stretch is for the audience whose task it is to stay on board.

Solomon's mother came from Palermo and his father from Russia. They met and married after the war and settled in New York where their son, one of seven children, begins storing material for his act, although you may quickly get the impression that the material is drawn and quartered from someone else's act. Far be it from me to sit and write down jokes, despite the fact that they make up the text. However, Solomon's story of his mother who never quite gets the hang of being kosher and of the fate of the dishes and silverware that have been inadvertently mixed is mildly amusing, if hard to believe. In contrast, his ruminations on the failure of his marriage ("I found therapy; she found religion"), his two children, and his life as an educator before entering show biz hit closer to the truth, but are boring.

The best thing you can say about the jokes — mostly about sex, old age, and illness— is that they are notably of the bathroom variety. The first thing the therapist is likely to say to him, if and when he should show up is, "You don't need a therapist you need a dramaturg." However, if "It's windy; no it's Thursday" sounds funny to you, then Solomon's brand of humor may be just your thing.

In the program notes, the show's director John Bowab, lists as his most recent credit the Broadway bound (recently unbound) tour of James Kirkwood's Legends starring Joan Collins and Linda Evans. Now that's funny.

My Mother's Italian My Father's Jewish & I'm In Therapy
Written and Performed by Steve Solomon
Directed by John Bowab

Scenic Design: Ray Klausen
Lighting Design: Brian Nason
Sound Design: Carl Casella
Running Time: 1 hour 25 minutes no intermission
The Little Shubert Theatre, 422 West 42nd Street
Opening night December 8
Scheduled to play through January 28, 2007
Performance schedule: Tuesday Saturday at 8 PM with matinees Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 3 PM.
Tickets: $35 - $65 (+ $1.25 facility charge)
Call Telecharge.com, (212 239 6200. Visit www.ItalianJewishTherapy.com
Review by Simon Saltzman based on critic's preview performance December 6.
Last performance 8/24/08
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