If I hadn’t met the playwright at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre after his show, I would swear Larry David, not Larry Jay Tish, was the author. THE LAST JEWS: An Apocalyptic Comedy (playing through May 11th) has Curb Your Enthusiasm irreverence written all over it. And that’s a compliment. It’s not easy to send up the world and its atrocities without sounding callous.
Director Margaret Ann Brady finds the perfect comic tone for the material: It’s not at all dismissive of the pain we inflict on each other but she taps into an absurdist vein (the one right next to the pain) which has us shaking our heads while we’re laughing at the crazy premise: Canada, believe it or not, is the aggressor (in some future time warp). They’ve attributed the ozone problem in the Northwest Territories to methane in the Jewish community for some wacky reason…so the Sierra Club has stepped in to save the endangered Jews.
We meet two young, dedicated Sierra operatives who have located the very last Jews in North America and brought them to a “safe zone” where they can start repopulating. They’re still saving whales and penguins, mind you, but they’ve added homo sapiens to their list. When Morty asks how they found him, the young activist says it was easy. He just tracked supermarket data, Chinese food take-out orders and J-Date websites. The hitch to the Sierra plan is that the woman they’ve abducted (for her own good, of course) knows Morty. She was married to him. Oy veh! You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Tish keeps the adventure light, even adding a Brothers Grimm deus ex machina discovery device to insure a happy ending…but at the same time, we’re fully aware that genocide does occur now, today, in many places in the world so that happy ending isn’t really so happy after all.
Ellen Colton is delightful as the spunky woman they kidnap for Chuck Schwager’s bewildered Morty. Alexandria King and Aiden Kinney are charmingly intense as the very serious Sierra workers and Brad Kelly’s video design for the television news broadcasts is an effective and awfully clever comic coup. Mazel Tov.