In her one-woman show 25 Questions for A Jewish Mother ” comedienne Judy Gold attempts to solve one of the great mysteries of the universe—specifically, just what exactly a Jewish mother is. Written by Kate Moira Ryan and Ms. Gold, 25 Questions is the result of a five-year project during which the two interviewed over 50 Jewish women of different ages, ethnicities and occupations. Gold also uses the piece to explore her relationship with her own mother.
Gold’s various comic riffs, presenting a kind of snapshot journey of her life, range from a joke about The Diary of Anne Frank , (her mother got her the pop-up version of the book), to how she became a security risk for a remark she made about President Bush, to recalling the time she sang at a karaoke bar due to a broken heart. There’s also her initial horror as she realizes how, over the years, she herself has begun to pick up some “Jewish mother” characteristics.
In between all of this, Gold takes on the personas of several of the women she interviewed as she relates their answers to some of her questions. Topics touched on in the interviews include religious tolerance, prejudice and the role of women in society; with the one constant seeming to be how all these women were in some way confined by the choices they made. Interestingly, Gold found the conservative Jewish women she spoke with to be some of the most open-minded people she had met. It was as if each of these women in some way wanted to break away from their own conventional molds.
Much more than stand-up comedy, 25 Questions shows that the traits of the so-called Jewish mothers, each of whom have their own hopes, fears, dreams and prejudices, are in many ways universal—transcending racial, religious and generational lines. Gold’s funny and endearing performance, coupled with sharp writing, and expert direction by Karen Kohlhaas, makes this a very interesting and entertaining lesson to learn.
Posted in: Theatre