Review by Glenda MacDonald
Sunday’s matinee performance of Steve Solomon’s “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m in Therapy!” starring Tony Award® winner Paul Kreppel was a source of belly-laughs as well as some cringes and angst. Kreppel did an admirable job portraying comedian and dialectician Steve Solomon’s character & material. His comedic timing was impeccable, his talent for mimicking accents was compounded by doing sound effects plus- the stereotypical physical humour was spot-on. This production is Kreppel’s Toronto acting debut following his successful long run playing the same role in New York City. He clearly engaged the audience with his ad-libbing; including doing a poll of who was Italian; Jewish; and who (to laughs but no hands-up) was in therapy. The audience relished his heckling of some late-comers.
My moderate reservations stemmed from my (and my friends’) mistaken expectation that this production would be in the vein of “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding” with a fast-paced narrative and ultimate conclusion, rather than a one-man, nearly two hour, stand-up routine full of one-liners and sight gags with no set changes. The initially humorous off-stage (recorded I presume) voices of “Steve’s” therapist’s secretary and his parents on the phone which were needed to set the scenario in the therapist’s office became tiresome with repetition. Some segments regarding the airport, a taxi, and a doctor’s office were superfluous.
It was an enjoyable afternoon but I left with the feeling that something was missing and there were bits that could have been eliminated. The humour, while mostly in good fun, was at the expense of one ethnic or sexual orientation group after another, and at times strayed beyond the premise of the title with little benefit. It seemed somewhat out-dated in Toronto’s multicultural community. I did enjoy the positive audience response – in particular the elderly couple behind me from Palermo and Sicily whose regular raucous laughter drew delighted responses from the performer and kept me awake when I started to nod off in Act II. Like its solo performer, the play- “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m in Therapy” is also a Tony Award® winner. It and two sequel shows are currently touring to critical acclaim in the U.S. I encourage everyone to discover for themselves this technically well-done production and see how it personally resonates. It’s on-stage at the Bathurst Street Theatre, 736 Bathurst (just south of Bloor) until February 5th. – Call Ticketmaster @ 855.985.2787