nytheatre.com review by Shelley Molad
August 15, 2010
I have to say I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about Jew Wish, a solo show about a single, twentysomething Jewish woman and her experience with J-date. Oy Vey, I thought. Did I really want to listen to a Jewish chick rant about online dating? Well, no. But was I curious? Yes. You see, I've never ventured onto J-date, nor have I ever considered online dating, but I do know plenty of people who have. And I've heard successful relationships and even marriage come out of it. What's all the fuss about anyway, I thought?
When I arrived at the theatre, there was a line of people wrapped around the block, waiting to buy or pick up tickets. Apparently, I wasn't the only curious one.
Rachel Evans may not have struck gold with J-date, but she sure knows how to entertain and tell a good story or two. I scored a seat in the front row and had the pleasure of watching every gesture and facial expression of Ms. Evans, who is quite the comedian. Yes, she fits the stereotype of a single twentysomething Jewish woman in New York. But she surprised me with her range, as she transformed into the various characters on J-date, my favorite being the goys who just like Jewish girls, having heard they "put out." She transforms fluidly into all of her characters and keeps the audience's attention the whole show. What's most appealing about Evans is how truthful and human she is—we laugh because we recognize ourselves on stage. She's not ashamed to show the desperation, anticipation, anxiety, fears, and rejections associated with dating. We are reminded about how tough the playing field can be and how the internet can complicate things because it allows us to project illusions onto others. Which makes reality all the more interesting and that much more surprising. We see Rachel on all sorts of dates, disasters included; in her apartment obsessively surfing J-date; dreaming about the drawn stick figure on her easel, who represents "the one"; and talking with her relentless Yiddish-speaking Mother on the phone, who pushed her to sign up for J-date in the first place.
Highlights of the show include an unexpected re-run with a former J-date candidate, who attracts Rachel with his Vespa, which she humorously takes for a joy ride or two; and a partially successful attempt to date a one-handed guy named Toag. Though some of her episodes are drawn out, each has an unexpected ending. She never lets on too much, so we remain intrigued and eager to hear more.
Jew Wish, which is directed by Rachel Eckerling, includes a number of cliched jokes about being Jewish, but that's to be expected... and hey, for the most part, people laughed. She explains the inside jokes for the non-Jews in the audience, if there are any, including Jewish Geography: Wherever you go, you're likely to run into somebody Jewish, who most likely knows somebody you went to camp with or...you get the drill. (I mock this, even though when I first pulled out Rachel's resume, I read it only to find that we studied with the same teachers from the Moscow Art Theater program. Of course, it's because we are both Jewish! Just kidding.)
I won't say what Rachel's final verdict of J-date is. You'll have to see for yourself. Just don't give up; that special someone is out there. Or maybe he or she is right here: You and I are enough.