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Jewtopia review

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2005-02-17

Jewtopia play

Jewtopia play

Having been a huge hit in Los Angeles, Jewtopia – a comedy which takes a fresh look at the world of Jewish dating – is now wowing audiences in New York. SJ’s Caroline Westbrook heads for the Big Apple to check it out.

When Jewtopia first opened in Los Angeles in 2003, it was supposed to run for six weeks. Fifteen months later it was still going strong, wowing audiences and becoming the first show in the history of LA theatre to sell out 300 consecutive performances. Given these statistics, it was only a matter of time before it hit the East Coast – and the New York production is proving similarly successful.

And it’s not hard to see why this play has captured the imagination of Jewish audiences, for it’s one of the cleverest Semitic satires to come along in ages. Rather than rely on jaded stereotypes and clichés, it pokes fun at some of the more over-used elements of Jewish humour, while throwing in plenty of observational comedy about the quirks and foibles of being a 21st Century Jew.

The action revolves around two old schoolfriends, Adam Lipschitz and Chris O’Connell (Sam Woolfson and Bryan Fogel, who also penned the script). After being reunited at a Jewish singles event, the pair discover they’re both in search of the perfect Jewish girl – and Chris isn’t going to let the small matter of his Catholic upbringing stand in his way. He offers to help Adam find his perfect woman, courtesy of the Jdate website, if Adam will show him ‘Jewtopia’ – that is, teach him how to become a nice Jewish boy in order to help him find kosher romance.

In the wrong hands, this could have been a disaster, but it’s all credit to Woolfson and Fogel that Jewtopia works so well. For one thing, they’ve come up with a script that is consistently sharp and funny, taking potshots at everything from overbearing Jewish mothers to singles events to the Jewish inability to perform DIY tasks.

For another, they’re both very appealing in their roles and play off each other very well, keeping the pace fast and the one-liners coming, while creating a gallery of memorable supporting characters (expertly played by several cast members in multiple roles). The result is one of the most entertaining Jewish plays to come along in ages, proving once and for all that kosher comedy can be fresh and original, rather than resorting to the same old jokes to score laughs. If you live in New York or have plans to visit, this is a must-see.

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