SHIKSAPPEAL: Getting the Chosen to Choose Me
nytheatre.com review by Case Aiken
August 12, 2012
I’ll admit that Shiksappeal: Getting the Chosen to Choose Me, a one woman show in this year’s New York Internatiional Fringe Festival which tells the story of an Irish Catholic from DC who moves to New York City to chase a dream of theater and starts pursuing relationships with a whole new ethnic group, struck this Irish Catholic from DC now living in New York who works in theater and dates someone outside his faith, as a little close to home. It’s a story of the woes of dating when you don’t really know the rules and identifying when you have a type and how to handle that. Katherine Williams, who wrote and stars in the show, has realized that she has a thing for Jewish men, but she’s also realized that there is a lot of social pressure on Jewish men to marry inside their faith, which has made her reassess her own take on relationships and faith. As a stand up comedian, Katherine is used to being alone on stage and making sure that the audience is entertained, so it should come as no surprise that the piece moves briskly and is full of laughs. It is however, nice to see that she balances the humor with a more introspective assessment of herself. Honestly, the only issue I had was that she sort of assumes we’re all in on her longstanding habit of dating Jewish men before she really gets to that in the story, though obviously the title should kind of give that away.
I think the theme of how we value our religion and how it affects how we see the people in our lives is a strong one, which the light tone effectively prevents from ever being too heavy. Many things creep into your life through it, such as accidental prejudice, self doubt, and unfounded distrust. The realization that sometimes we don’t even recognize when we’ve taken certain tenants for truth until we’re actually forced to confront them is a particularly poignant point made. It takes a good performance and nuanced script to address such a theme without coming off as preachy or arrogant, so I was happy to see it handled well here.
Ultimately, Shiksappeal... is one of the more watchable one-person shows I’ve seen. Its venue is Jimmy’s No. 43, which is an East Village bar and the perfect location for this show’s heavy roots in stand up comedy. Fun but with a good moral behind it, this is a great show with a charming performer that I think anyone who’s tried dating in New York would really enjoy.