Enough About Me....Let's Talk About Jew!
nytheatre.com review by Shelley Molad
August 19, 2007
Polish, Egyptian, and Jewish... in Australia? Now that's a culture shock. Enough About Me... Let's Talk About Jew! is Jeremie Bracka's hilarious one-man (plus a Buba) show that delves into his yesteryears in the care of his worrisome, hysterical, and neurotic Jewish family.
After a humorous opening ballad sung by a "Cabaret Buba" who sits at the piano stage left, the lights come up to reveal a stark stage, save for a wooden desk and black swivel chair. Bracka sits at the desk, playing himself and his Russian receptionist, at the law firm where he works, a firm with a name more Jewish than kneidalach, kugel, and lox on a bagel. He recites a string of countless messages left on the answering machine by his mother, whom he still lives with at the age of 36. But enough about the Jeremie Bracka of today; we are immediately taken back 36 years to the day his life began—starting with his messianic birth, overtly staged for our viewing pleasure.
Back home in Melbourne, we meet Jeremie's Polish mother Paula, his Egyptian father, and his two crazy aunts. Most amusing is how Bracka inhabits the characters of his aunts, one who resembles a chicken with her arms on her hips and back hunched, and the other incessantly licking her eyebrows and forcing a shrill laugh. With his unstoppable energy and rapid character transitions, Bracka, for the most part, is consistently engaging and interesting as the Jewish women who have reigned over his life.
There are some memorable moments in the play, in particular when he plays an Israeli citizen interviewed by a BBC anchorman about the Palestinian conflict. Bracka is funniest when he relates events in a manner that is truthful rather than overly exaggerated. His stories and impressions are entertaining enough and don't always need extra embellishment. He is comparable to British icon Sasha Baren Cohen; rightfully so if he sticks to his hilarious impressions and bags some of the shtick comedy.
The piece is jam-packed with clichéd remarks about his nagging Jewish mother; there are many we have probably heard and some we are all too familiar with. During Jeremie's bar mitzvah party, we are left with an empty stage while Cabaret Buba plays inappropriate bar mitzvah tunes on the piano such as Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. The segment is funny at first, but it begins to lag and the audience restlessly waits for Bracka to return on stage.
Though his family has already planned for him to be a lawyer and a doctor, Jeremie declares his dream to be an actor and auditions for the national theater in Melbourne, unsuccessfully performing a Shakespeare monologue in Yiddish. What's compelling and humbling about Bracka's pursuit of his dreams is that they were cultivated as a response to the alienation he felt from his family.
Just when we think the show is over, the lights come back up to reveal Bracka sitting in the swivel chair, replaying the messages on his answering machine from the beginning of the play. Except this time, they are from his real mother and aunt. And suddenly we accept that what we've witnessed has been an authentic and truthful dramatization of Jeremie Bracka's life. In fact, this last moment is the most touching moment in the entire piece—sweet as a slice of strudel.