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A CurtainUp Review
25 Questions For a Jewish Mother

After a successfully expanded run, Judy Gold will ponder her the questions faced by Jewish Mother past and present once again, this time at This heartfelt and hilarious one-woman show begins previews on Wednesday, September 27 and officially opens on Thursday, October 12 at St. Luke’s Theatre (308 W. 46th Street). Gold's reprise of her solo show runs from September 27th and will have an official re-opening on October 12th
I'm like a documentary premiering at a gay film festival in Berlin, 'Das Orthodyke.
--- One of Judy Gold's opening quips about her own experience with and as as an observant Jew and Lesbian mother.

Judy Gold
Judy Gold
I was especially busy when standup comedienne Judy Gold's 25 Questions For a Jewish Mother opened its limited run at Ars Nova. Though there have been numerous exceptions, I'm not generally a great devotee of solo shows, especially when they seem to be about that tired stereotype about surviving a controlling Jewish mom. Since the show opened at an especially busy time I left it to readers to form their own opinion and limited our coverage to one such reader's enthusiastic comment: "What sounds like just another one-person show bashing Jewish moms, isn't. Judy Gold is terrific, funny and touching. She and Ms. Ryan are a great team. An hour well spent. P.S.--The friend who went with me, agrees."

With the show extending its original run and now headed for a transfer to an as yet to be located theater, I took advantage of its expanded schedule during its final week at Ars Nova. The good news is that Gold IS funny and that with the help of her playwright friend Kate Moira Ryan, she has managed to turn the usual Jewish mother bashing into an often touching memoir of being Gay, a mother (via artificial insemination) and coming to the conclusion that having her fears about turning into her mother aren't quite the nightmarish scenario she always envisioned.

The cross-country interviews by Gold and Ryan span five years and lots of coffee and rugelach are a smart device for deconstructing the negatives in the stereotypical traits associated with mothers like Gold's -- particularly the compulsive need to touch base at least once a day. (This anxious staying in touch is immediately played out via a frantic, needlessly worried phone message from Mama Ruth Gold:"Judith, are you all right? Did you fall down? What happened? Where are you? I'm a wreck. . .  So long.")

The questions (I didn't count but I'm pretty sure there were considerably fewer than 25) are addressed to an interesting variety of women, including a Chinese woman who, when asked what her biggest regret was, had none s about her conversion to Judaism except that it landed her in New Jersey -- a regret the New Jersey raised Gold can easily identify with. But while Gold capably assumes the personas of all the interviewees she's not as gifted a mimic as Sarah Jones. Consequently, she's at her best when in her stand-up comic mode (the exception being an out of nowhere recollection about her outrageous, headline making remark at a Howard Dean fund raiser), and the interviews tend to retain their gimmickry.

With just one woman included to respond to the questions posed, having more than one Holocaust survivor seems unbalanced; what's more it points to some confusion as to the ages of these women. The woman who was in a concentration camp with her mother would have to be in her mid-seventies which makes one wonder if she and others were chosen as much for their varying ages as situations.

Under Karen Kohlhaas's intelligent direction there's minimal stage business, with Gold spotlighted at stage left when channeling her stand-up comic self -- and moving to the opposite side of the stage when slipping into her interview characters. Hopefully, the show's next home will again be a small intimate space like Ars Nova which can easily fill up with the niche audience to which it appeals.

By Judy Gold (who is also the solo performer) and Kate Moira Ryan
Directed by Karen Kohlhaas
Set & Costume Design: Louisa Thompson
Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton
Sound Design: Jorge Muelle
Running time: 70 minutes without intermission
Ars Nova Theater, 511 West 54th Street (10th/11th Aves)212-868-4444
From 1/18/06 to 3/10/06 -- transferring to an as yet unnamed Off-Broadway venue
. Wed, Sun at 2pm; Thu at 7pm; Fri to Sat at 8pm.
Tickets: $35, open seating

Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on March 14th performance
The show transferred to St. Luke's where it will close 3/18/07 after16 previews and 178 regular performances, to be followed by a multi-city tour and a book.

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