He is neither Jewish nor a doctor — but an endearing charmer who rises to the challenge of his new identity with interesting levels of acting like he’s acting — yet subtly letting us in on his “What?!” moments, well played by Michael Lopetrone. Mom Sarah Birch is the perfect Jewish mother, lovable but invasive. Daughter Sarah (Vanessa Sawson) sweeps us up in her desperation and charm as she juggles “real” non-Jewish boyfriend (a sweet and earnest David Wolber) with her unnervingly adorable hired stand-in. Fred Buchalter shines as the fatherly mensch Abe.
Jewish folks will have an extra layer of fun with this show (my husband reports that Abe brought back fond memories of his Uncle Henry) — but the crazy, heartwarming, family dynamics are universal. Any of us can lose his/her identity in an effort to please others. Through lots of laughter, this show offers real insights, led by psychologist brother Joel (Patrick Loos) who is excellent in a smaller role, line-wise, but with a lot going on in his eyes as he observes and ultimately questions the ongoing charade.
Special props to director Tony Caselli, who created a fluid, natural blocking in this homey but challenging theatre-in-the-round apartment set (Bartley H. Bauer). The scene changes by the actors were beautifully choreographed to energetic music (sound design John Lepard.)
If you’ve never seen Beau Jest before — or even if you have — don’t miss this excellent rendition.