My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m STILL in Therapy
nytheatre.com review by Nicholas Linnehan
August 10, 2011
Comedy can be one of the hardest things to do because everyone has a different sense of humor. So Steve Solomon has his work cut out for him in his one-man comedy show, My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish and I'm Still in Therapy. This show is a revised work of his previous show, much about the same topic. Through his impeccable impersonations, we get to meet all of his strange dysfunctional family and what ensues is a night of fun.
Solomon's concept is simple: he is awaiting the arrival of his family for a surprise birthday party for his mother. As he and the audience await her arrival, Solomon gives us a peek into his family life. Despite him being the only person on stage, he creates such vivid characters and he plays them so effortlessly that we really feel like each family member is present when Solomon breathes life into them. He manages to capture the essence of each of his family, which makes them both hysterical and believable. When he portrays his aging family members who are complaining about all sorts of different ailments, I had tears in my eyes. His ability to move between all of these different vignettes is amazing.
Yet, I found myself checking out after about an hour. Some of the skits seem to drag and, while funny, seem disconnected. I wish Solomon would find a way to make all of his memorable episodes connected. Sometimes, he appears to be too tangential. For instance, he devotes a considerable amount of time relaying how his family passes gas, While very funny, it goes on too long and we lose interest. Perhaps a more mainstreamed progression of events would tie his work together. And while I enjoyed his re-enactment of all his memories, I didn't see a real connection to the title of this work; why was he in therapy? He mentions it at different times, but there is no real weight given to it. He seems like he is a fine man who has some unforgettable family members, not someone who needs therapy to cope with his family dynamic.
Still, Solomon shines. He has great comic timing and knows how to work an audience. In one poignant place, he reads a letter written to him by his father on the night of his birth. Solomon really connects with this moment and it is beautiful to watch. Lastly, Solomon is clearly enjoying what he is dong, which makes us enjoy it too.