431 of My Closest Friends or a Shonda in One Act

Goldman also directs Billington, who plays the expectant mother Myra, and Presby, who plays all the other roles.

With:
Cast: Miriam Kouzel Billington, David Presby. A"bris" (the ceremonial circumcising of an infant son) is an important event for members of the Jewish faith. That the planning of such an event could lead a normally level-headed young mother-to-be into a nightmarish odyssey of Homeric proportions is the premise of this not-so-funny one-acter by the team of Miriam Kouzel Billington, Peter Goldman and David Presby.

Goldman also directs Billington, who plays the expectant mother Myra, and Presby, who plays all the other roles.

Myra was originally planning a nice little “family affair” around the bris of her soon-to-arrive son.

TX: TX:431 Prods. presents a play in one act by Miriam Kouzel Billington, Peter Goldman and David Presby; director, Goldman; costume consultant, Berda Morley; wigs, Butch Belo, Dawn Decker; But when she allows herself to come under the Svengali-like influence of the ultimate bris consultant, Eden, Myra finds herself spiraling out of control, going to any lengths to put on the “mother of all bris” extravaganzas for 431 of her closest friends, at $ 150 a friend.

To guarantee the baby is born the mandatory eight days before the only day she can reserve the banquet hall, she arranges an induced labor and is immediately on the phone booking the room.

When the baby is mistakenly circumcised at the hospital, Myra bribes Rabbi Feldman to get the mohel (circumciser) to fake it. When she comes into conflict with the indomitable octogenarian Hadassah member Mrs. Kipperman for use of the banquet room, Myra negotiates a compromise that would do credit to the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

The writing is clever at times, but most of the scenes drag on far beyond their point of interest. Complicating matters is Goldman’s undefined staging andthe undisciplined, out-of-control performances of Billington and Presby.

On paper, the concept of having one actor play a kaleidoscope of comic characters must have seemed like an irresistible tour de force. Unfortunately, Presby isn’t up to the task. All his female characters, from Eden to Mrs. Billington and beyond, are played as yenta-one-note. And that note is shrill. He is far more effective in his portrayals of Myra’s meek husband and Charlie, the star-worshipping hotel room clerk.

431 of My Closest Friends or a Shonda in One Act

Production: 431 of My Closest Friends or A Shonda in One Act (Theatre/Theater, Hollywood; 99 seats; $ 12 top)

Crew: Music, Stephen Billington. Opened, reviewed Jan. 23, 1996; runs through March 5. Running time: 1 hour, 30 min.

With: Cast: Miriam Kouzel Billington, David Presby. A"bris" (the ceremonial circumcising of an infant son) is an important event for members of the Jewish faith. That the planning of such an event could lead a normally level-headed young mother-to-be into a nightmarish odyssey of Homeric proportions is the premise of this not-so-funny one-acter by the team of Miriam Kouzel Billington, Peter Goldman and David Presby.

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