Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Jew That Saved Christmas (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Let me make one thing utterly, absolutely clear beyond all doubt. The Jew That Saved Christmas is fun. Lots of fun. As in laugh out loud lots of times fun, not least from the irreverent humor that never turns nasty or mean.

My friend Andy Shultz wrote this one act comedy, the third of his plays I've gotten to see at ZJU, every one a kind of gem. Comedy generally proves much trickier than most folks presume, because it depends on getting a startling number of factors just right--not least timing and tone (frankly most comic plays I seem don't rise to this challenge).  As director of his own work, Shultz helps nail both.

Credit: Andy Shultz
The title character is played by Adam Neubauer, another playwright/director at ZJU, a deeply unhappy and unlucky young man named Larry who wants nothing more for Christmas that to eat Chinese food with his lesbian roommate (Kyle M. Collucci) and watch t.v.  Naturally things don't go as planned. Quite apart from his best friend (David Wyn Harris) moaning over his recent breakup and then lusting after our lead's mother (Deirdre Anderson), there's also the obnoxious neighbor (Carol Muniak)  who has a crush on Larry and won't take "Hell No!" for an answer.

Then, there are the Elves (Derrick Brooks, Jennifer Nwene, Brady Glasser). You read right. Elves. Seems an ancient prophecy insists Larry is the Jew That Will Save Christmas by defeating the evil demon Krampus. Does that make any sense? Well, as much as anything when you think about it. 

Credit: Andy Shultz
But here is where the play really works, just as a script. Fun, zany ideas aren't even a dime a dozen. More like a nickel at most. Execution lies the true test of any idea, and this one delivers! We know this because of the final clinching proof--the audience laughs. In a comedy, everything else takes second place, and yet remains nowhere near as easy as one might think. A genuinely funny play isn't just a string of jokes. Larry's personal nightmares keep growing as the story continues, but only after a specific tone of zany kvetching has been established. Then other details of plot, dialogue, character and even costume follow. By fitting together into a whole, we all get "let in" on this world and its skewy POV. Of course Larry's mother cannot imagine anyone good enough for her little boy--and of course that turns his love life into a train wreck, and always will even as she starts making out with Larry's friend, only to have Larry walk in on them. This is his world. Thank God it isn't yours. Now sit back and enjoy!

Credit: Adam Neubauer
Meanwhile the cast proves itself just splendid. Over-acting well is in fact not easy to pull off, neither are half the little bits and things done throughout--like "freezing" in place without losing any energy.

Despite the warning above, I don't want to spoil any potential audience members' joy by revealing too much. What instead I hope to do is whet your appetite. Anyone regularly reading my reviews has sussed onto the fact I love me some angst, some cranial fornication and some deep dark drama. BUT--I adore a show that is pure, unadulterated (and very slightly wicked) FUN.  That is what this show promises, and more importantly, delivers. Really, it would be a shame to miss this.

The Jew That Saved Christmas plays Sundays at 3pm through December 20, 2015 at Zombie Joe's Underground 4850 Lankershim Blvd (just south of the NoHo Sign), North Hollywood CA 91601. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at

No comments: