BWW Review: MY SON THE WAITER: A JEWISH TRAGEDY at 7 Stages Theatre
Funnyman Brad Zimmerman has come to 7 Stages Theatre in Atlanta with his critically acclaimed one-man show, My Son The Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy. Zimmerman calls the show a hybrid. Part stand-up. PArt Theatre. And the stand-up part is funny. Really funny. That's not surprising given that Zimmerman has spent much of his professional performance career opening for comedy giants like Joan Rivers and George Carlin. As the title suggests, a good deal of the comedy hinges upon stereotypes of the overbearing Jewish mother, and Zimmerman has realized a sharply honed portrait of his own Jewish mother that generates an abundance of laughter. But this isn't what earns the show its most substantive praise. The theatre part is what's particularly worthy of note, and, setting aside a few moments that fall a bit too far from the carefully drawn thesis of the piece which maintains that the best life is the one in which fear has not been an inhibitor of running after one's dreams, Zimmerman achieves a level of truth-bearing intimacy that makes this piece feel like a beautifully executed motivational speech.
The show tells the autobiographical story of Zimmerman's nearly 30 year journey to becoming a professional actor of repute. And the story spans a lifetime. From Zimmerman's childhood camp experiences that are rooted in the joy of naïve childhood confidence to Zimmerman's days as a waiter when he floundered around in the discomfort that is a familiar byproduct of an absence of purpose, Zimmerman is generous with the embarrassing details.
Zimmerman confirms during the show that his mother has provided a plethora of content, and his characterizations of her are rich and vibrant. Carefully placed gestures and an overdrawn accent bring her to life on the stage. She is a woman whose Native American name might be Little-Overbearing-Running-Mouth. She is a woman whose weekend at the beach might be ruined by her son's haircut. She is a woman who measures success by one's income and occupation. And Zimmerman, as he explores his relationship with this mother, sifts through his closet of inadequacy, pulling out some of the best one-liners of the evening, mostly at his own expense.
What's marvelous here is that Zimmerman makes his well-traveled journey look effortless. The evening doesn't seem scripted. It seems, in fact, incredibly conversational. There is an authenticity in his delivery of heartbreaking truths that makes him feel like an old friend. And perhaps that sense that he's an old friend is also perpetuated by the fact that his story is so wholly relatable. Many of us, like Zimmerman, have been held back by fear. We know the greatest desires of our hearts, but we don't seek to realize them. That is a hard pill to swallow. Zimmerman, in his own hilarious way, gives us permission to spit the pill out, to pursue our dreams, to live a life of purpose.
My Son The Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy plays through June 18 at 7 Stages Atlanta.
For tickets and additional information, visit http://www.7stages.org/