My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish, and I'm in Therapy
Also see Susan's review of Doubt: A Parable
My Mother's Italian, My Father's Jewish, and I'm in Therapy started out as just a title, according to author and performer Steve Solomon. Solomon's one-person show with that title, a joke-filled depiction of the many people in his life, is now onstage at The Bethesda Theatre in Bethesda, Maryland, and frankly it might play better in a comedy club where the audience members sit at tables and sip drinks. The material may come from Solomon's own life, but that doesn't mean it isn't familiar - specifically, at least two of the jokes and several of the punch lines.
While Solomon always had a sense of humor, he came to full-time performance fairly late, after a career as a physics teacher and school administrator. The current show is an encapsulation of how he got to where he is today, with a heavy emphasis on sex and some toilet humor.
Solomon grew up in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn; his Russian Jewish father married an Italian woman he met during World War II. His extended family included his father's mother, who tried to teach her Italian daughter-in-law how to keep a kosher home; his mother's brother, a would-be wiseguy; and eventually the sweet Jewish hippie he met at Woodstock and later married and divorced.
The performer, as directed by John Bowab, has a pleasantly self-effacing manner. His strongest skill is in delivering one-liners: repeating one relative's comment that her husband was "a mail-order groom who was damaged in shipping," for example, or his brief summation of all Jewish holidays: "They tried to kill us. God saved us. Let's eat."
As Solomon is allegedly sharing his experiences as he awaits his therapist (whose name becomes a running joke that is funniest the first time), scenic designer Jason Blackman has created a doctor's office set with far greater detail than needed. It's very nice, but the performer probably could do just as well with just a three-legged stool and a plain backdrop.
The Bethesda Theatre