For those of you that have not made the trip to Glenview’s quaint storefront, Oil Lamp Theater, you are missing a new house of comedy. Their current production, “Jest A Second”, James Sherman’s follow-up to “Beau Jest”, is a very funny look at a family faced with a “sticky, family situation”. The time is 1995. The place- Lincoln Park! The family, Goldman, from the earlier play now has to struggle with another family problem. In the first story, their daughter, Sarah marries a non-Jewish man, Bob. They are back of course, but this time the situation is far from the earlier one. Bob has converted to Judaism, and having done so, is even more religious than those who were born into the faith. Sarah ( the adorable Elizabeth Mazur) is with child and slightly overdue as the play begins. Bob (the hysterical Evan Johnson), an actor, is preparing dinner for Sarah’s parents, Abe (well handled by Rick March, who truly reminds me of my dad) and Miriam ( Julie Mitre plays the Jewish martyr to perfection). It is Friday night and Miriam’s birthday. Sarah’s older brother Joel (deftly handled by Andrew Clancey) arrives early to let his “family” know that there are some major changes in his life and that he has invited the new love of his life to this Sabbath Dinner, Randy.
As the first act plays out, we learn that Randy is indeed a young man, not the lady that everyone expected to be with Joel. Yes, it turns out that Joel is about to “come-out”. He is a father of two young boys and has an ex-wife who will make his life miserable. The story however takes place in 1995- a time when being “Gay” and coming out was harder than today. To be honest, we have come a long way in these 20 years. Thank God! The play is a true comedy filled with situations designed to make you laugh at traditions and customs, but even more about stereotypes.
Not wanting to spoil the birthday party when Randy decides not to come, actor Bob, who has done La Cage, dresses up in his red gown and blonde wig taking on the persona of “Randy” for the night. The Goldman’s fall in love with this “girlfriend” of Joel’s. Act one ends with Sarah going into labor. The second act opens eight days later. It is the day of their son Adam’s “bris”(the Jewish tradition of circumcision) and the family is waiting for the guests and the “Moil” (the pediatrician who performs the “bris”) who as it turns out, is Dr. Randy Rosen (Neil Austin Edwards). Yes, you guessed it, Joel’s Randy!
Now the fun begins with Bob going back and forth into his female character, and all of us learning about the inner thoughts that each character is living with. While the situation is one that needs to be thought out, Sherman has found all the funny parts, allowing us to be amused and educated at the same time. It is the smooth and sensitive direction of Keith Gerth, along with the fine tuned cast he has assembled, that makes this production one that you will certainly enjoy… and here is the topper, “You Don’t Have To Be Jewish” to truly enjoy, but” it wouldn’t hurt! Gerth has designed the set and probably handled most of the tech on his own along with his sidekick, Stage Manger Victoria Apodaca, who makes the show work once the lights come up.
Oil Lamp is a unique experience. A small “storefront” located at 1723 West Glenview Road , in what might be called “downtown” Glenview ( just west of Waukegan Road/Route 43). They have a free parking lot next to the theater, plus there is parking on the street. Metra service is available as well. In fact, the train stops just a few blocks away, and there are several dining spots in the immediate area. The lobby area is amazing and very special. A long antique bar where cookies are served along with soft drinks. You can bring a bottle of wine to the theater and they will be glad to handle the corkage and glasses. M & M’s and nuts are also on the bar for your enjoyment. In the next room, the actual theater with reserved seats ( only 45 ) making this a very intimate space where you can feel as if you are that well- known “fly on the wall” watching the action come to life.
I have fallen in love with this theater, both the company and the facility, and now that Jane has attended a show there, so has she! This is truly a hidden North Shore treasure. Solid theater at affordable ticket prices. And to top it off a funny play that will take away any problems in your life. At least for the two hours of the play, and probably on the ride home as well. This is one of those shows that you wish could go on. Maybe Sherman has more to come with this family ! If not, at least we were able to watch the parents and the children come to terms with accepting things as they are, and being able to adjust to the terms of happiness for each of the Goldman family members (and their significant others).
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Running time with intermission, 1 hour 50 minutes
Tickets are $35 and can be ordered by calling 847-834-0738 or online at www.oillamptheater.org
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Jest A Second”