What the Rabbi Saw - Review - Rabbinical Woes

The slapstick comedy farce revival of 'What The Rabbi Saw' written by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore originally performed in 1995 is having a revival at the Space Theater in Hollywood. Directed by Ross Kramer and produced by Alex Sol, the comedy has its good and bad moments.

Sisters Claudia and Wendy are startled at finding each other here

The single set is the hotel room of Lainie (Dre Slaman), the singer, who does not come on until the later first act.  Father (Adam Gregor) has the hots for Lainie and has arranged for her to sing at his daughter's wedding.  Knowing that the room is still empty, the sister (Stephanie Anne Chapman) and groom (Travis Goodman) escape for one last romp before he trots down the aisle with the bride (Sarah Zimmitti). Unfortunately, the bride and best man (Michael Uribes) have also decided to seek a moment of privacy.  Both men shed their pants only to discover each other and both hide under the dresses of their ladies as Mama (Kerry Michaels) comes in to check on the bride.  Mama is determined that this wedding will come off without a hitch. 

Mafia gunman holds Rabbi, Mitch and Walter at bay

Then comes Lainie and her mafia boyfriend (Ron Quigley) and the naive rabbi (Corey Pepper) who gets into the stew and everything bubbles over.     

A small cozy center off Melrose Blvd and Heliotrope near the Normandie 101 exit, 'The Space' has presented a number of hits. In my humble opinion, this isn't one of them.

Rabbi discovers Mitch and Claudia as Mama watches

The actors were all great' maybe a bit over the top, but good performances for their characters and for what they were given to work with in the story. Guy Perry was especially outrageous in his role of the misuchge wedding planner and Stephanie Chapman was great as the left out sister.  If anything could go wrong at a wedding, this was it. But it's all been done before. 

The story is fairly trite and stereotypical with the groom having it on with his soon-to-be-sister and the bride with her husband's best friend and the rabbi believing that the mushrooms, when mixed with Manischewitz wine, made you high.

Sisters Claudia and Wendy (bride) hide from Mama

Through a miscommunication I missed part of the first act (that's the good part), the bad part is that none of the jokes were funny. I thought the bit about Claudia's nose rather stupid and stereotypical and the boys under the ladies's dresses too gaggy.   All the characters were running this way and that --hiding in closets and under beds, running outside and inside as they tried ineffectively to avoid the mafia gunman. At end the whole gang of them get caught up in the zippers and did not seem plausible even for this mixed up crew.  Belief is required to be suspended too much. In some cases the stage was too small for the schtick. 

Dad and Lainie talking about romance

I did like the case of the disappearing groom when he went into the suitcase and Mama's taking charge at the end. 

Gunman holds the party hostage

However, if you really like slapstick, rent a Laurel and Hardy movie or Three Stooges and see it done right.

However, if you really want to see this, the show runs until Sunday December 16, 2006 with a 2 pm matinee performance. There are also matinees on Sunday 12/3 and 12/10. Other times are 8 pm on Friday and Saturday and 7 pm on Sunday night. For reservations, call 323 661 2585 or go online to www.dreamhouseensemble.com.

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