The God Box
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
February 20, 2013
Publicity photo for The God Box
The charming solo show The God Box starts with a classic Jewish fable of Chelm, the city of fools. As they say, all roads lead to Chelm.
Mom (Antonia Lassar) is in her daughter Rebecca's apartment. Rebecca just died in a car accident, and now it's time for her nice Jewish parents to prepare for the funeral. In a development that may be familiar to any modern American family, it becomes clear that Rebecca, an Anthropology student, has kept some things from her mother. A box labelled "God" contains some clues to the adult Rebecca's spiritual path--only it's not Jewish. This is a jarring discovery for a parent who believes she's raised her daughter right, and Mom copes by making many cheesecakes. These she takes to the growing list of unusual people whom she learns have been connected to her daughter.
As Antonia Lassar plays Mom and her interlocutors, it is quite funny to see the special people in Rebecca's life react to Mom's sarcasm. There's the glowingly happy new age Christian who is sure Rebecca wanted to spend "eternity with people like us". Mom's learned aversion to the word "baptism" is perfect. Then there's the farm collective, who are reluctant to accept the cheesecake until reassured that it is an old Jewish vegan recipe. Finally, Mom gets a call from Rebecca's unknown fiance, Mr. Davids, a princelike man with some kind of British accent who of course must be a Jewish doctor. He is neither, though, and Mom first resorts to scorn before she learns, as in the Chelm story, how to be happy.
Kudos to Antonia Lassar for being so many recognisable characters in this show. If you have been a parent or a child in the multi-cultural world recently, odds are you've met some of these people. Mom's accent, a blend of gentle Midwest and Jewish, contrasts wonderfully with the persistence of her beliefs. As the well-written story unfolds, she finds out things about the commonality of cultures that she did not, or would not, see before. Thanks to Nikki DiLoreto's direction, the interplay between different voices is exquisitely comical. Bring a friend and enjoy the lively discussion that should result.