Review: ‘Barry Moses’ Bar Mitzvah’

The skeletal script amounts to little more than a series of monologues--a group standup routine -- in which Barry's (Marc Smollin) relatives relate their woes in life and why they dislike the rest of the family.

The skeletal script amounts to little more than a series of monologues–a group standup routine — in which Barry’s (Marc Smollin) relatives relate their woes in life and why they dislike the rest of the family.

The conflict appears in the form of Mafioso stereotype Angelico (Sam Zap), who arrives to collect on a loan made by Barry’s father (Mark Lonow), presumably to pay for the bar mitzvah. Inevitably, the family covers the debt and the show ends happily for everyone except the audience.

A climate suggesting active audience involvement manifests as each member is greeted upon arrival as a valued guest of the family. This introduction proves misleading, with interjections from the audience being met by the confronted cast member with the canned response, “We’ll talk about it later.”

Though total participation may never have been the intent, the interaction that occurs is a tease– more afterthought than convention–leaving the audience floating in a kind of limbo between participant and spectator.

The show renders two acts of every cliche and stereotype about Jewish people imaginable, from stinginess to nose jobs. Joel Reed and Mansour Pourmand’s script overflows with off-color comedy, with most of the sex humor serving as a crutch employed by the playwrights to compensate for the text, or lack thereof.

The cast, under Pourmand’s inept, clueless direction, goes down with the Titanic. Inoffensive performances from the valiant and cute Smollin and the innocuous Lonow are drowned in the deluge of hamming and bad acting.

At the show’s opening, one eagerly hopes it would be good. They say, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love ‘Barry Moses’ Bar Mitzvah.’ ” If one were Jewish , one might be insulted by this piece of ridiculing tripe. In fact, this reviewer isn’t, but was.

Barry Moses' Bar Mitzvah

(Hyatt Sunset; 140 capacity; $ 68 top)


A Shiman Prods. presentation of a play in two acts by Joel Reed, Mansour Pourmand; director, Pourmand.


Lights, Peter Straus; sound, Jack Allaway; costumes, Alix Hester. Reviewed Sept. 22, 1992; runs indefinitely.


Morris Moses ... Burt Goodman Gilda Moses ... Melissa Berger Danny Moses ... Mark Lonow Sammy Moses ... Michael D. Edelstein Sadie ... Lila Teigh Saul ... Randy Swerdlick Barry Moses ... Marc Smollin Doris ... Diana Harvey Tante Rivka ... Sparkle Angelico Campazzi ... Sam Zap Similar in flavor to the interactive hit "Tony and Tina's Wedding," but not in taste-- an attribute this production lacks completely--"Barry Moses' Bar Mitzvah" ranks, or reeks, near the bottom of the current theatrical offerings in L.A. While advertisements for the show read, "You don't have to be Jewish to love" the show, most of the sparse humor hinges on culturally "inside" jokes, leaving much of the audience, including many "insiders," out.

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