‘Rabbi’ Is Well-Choreographed
What did the Rabbi see? This became the question that plagued my mind when I attended the Saturday, March 17 student production of ‘What the Rabbi Saw,’ a play by Billy Van Zant and Jane Milmore.
Performed in the Nixon Theatre in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, this play is a part of director Melissa Staab’s honors drama proposal and a Drama 198 project. However, even with an outstanding cast and well-choreographed physical acting, this comedy lacked structure and originality, making it a bittersweet experience.
Like every true comedy, the story begins with a bad relationship, which in this case has progressed to a wedding. Walter (Thomas Meston) is scheduled to marry Wendy Kirschenbaum (Laura Hartley) within an hour at a luxurious hotel rented and paid for by Wendy’s rich Jewish parents.
The guests have already arrived, a famous singer for the wedding is on her way, the Rabbi is preparing to bless this holy union and the groom is having an affair with the bride’s sister, Claudia. The scene opens with both Claudia and Walter literally entangled in each other’s clothing after hours of passionate debauchery, which becomes a problem when Mrs. Kirschenbaum bursts into the room looking for the groom.
Resembling the comedic performances of Lucille Ball or the Three Stooges, much of this play uses physical humor to compensate for absent dialogue. In one particular scene, Claudia sits on Walter’s lap to avoid suspicion and to cover him from her mother’s wandering eyes, but because they’ve become trapped in such a complicated predicament she is forced to feign Walter’s hand and feet as her own to avoid arousing suspicion. Their charade gets out of control when Mrs. Kirschenbaum takes a razor and shaves her future son-in-law under the belief that her daughter has hideously unhygienic legs.
The drama increases when bride-to-be Wendy reveals that she is having an affair with the best friend and best man, Mitch, played by Daniel Miller. This double-crossing duo is exposed when Wendy frantically enters the stage with the best man hidden underneath her gigantic gown and, by a coincidental twist of fate, Wendy and Mitch find themselves victims of a fashion mishap that results in a collision of guilty confessions. Now instead of freeing themselves from one problem, Wendy, Mitch, Walter and Claudia must do double the untangling before their parents find out.
The story unfolds in a manner similar to rolling a snowball down a steep hill. Conflicts between bride and groom, best man and maid of honor and mother and father begin to collect to produce an enormous ball of ridiculousness. Supporting characters like a stressed-out wedding planner, a high-profile pop diva, her jealous boyfriend and a na