Jay Nachman, after the death of his mother, finds himself wishing that instead of a middle-aged Jewish man, he were a gay Christian (because if you’re gay, you don’t have to pay for a $50 mimosa brunch the morning after). “Life would be so much easier,” he remarks, as we embark on his journey of self-discovery as he grieves the loss of a parent.
Nachman’s personal tribute to his mother and their relationship is a meandering 90 minute monologue with many tangential pontifications about religion, sex and his own unhappiness, leaving us unsure of the ultimate message of the piece.
A guitar sits at the back of the stage, used only to prove Nachman’s complete lack of musical talent. He complains about the lack of women in his life, and how alone he felt after the death of his mother. At Hanukkah, everyone receives a present but him, and he goes to Synagogue alone. The Jewish jokes provide a little humor as he tries to be a “super Jew” compared to his relatively unreligious lifestyle prior to his mourning.
Nachman’s self-effacing humor made him seem disarming and even a little endearing despite the flat delivery. However, the transitions from tragic to comic were too abrupt, leaving the audience uncomfortably chuckling as we watched his face crumple after lowering his mother into the ground then cracked the typical Jews-are-cheap joke by wondering what kind of casket to buy (no one is going to see it once she’s in the ground, right?).
I did find myself laughing a little, especially because I’d never heard Journey lyrics compared to the Song of Solomon and when the father breaks the news about his new girlfriend a month after his wife’s death over breakfast at Waffle House. But the overtly heavy subject matter of parental death was not heavy enough, as Nachman skated on the emotional surface, relying on jokes about his sexual inadequacy instead of dealing with mourning. I left the play thinking about how we all deal with death, and it occurred to me that this is how some people do deal with it, and that sometimes laughter is the best medicine. And as Nachman said, “My mother would have laughed at all the jokes you didn’t find funny.”