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LA Theater Review

Sarah, Sarah

In the annals of Jewish mothers, Sarah Grosberg would take all the cakes. Cheryl David, in a towering performance as the JM from hell in Daniel Goldfarb's play, is a stunningly awful, prehensile gorgon, who'll never give up her primacy in her son's life to the wrong girl, especially one from a poor family. Rochelle Bloom, sweetly and sturdily portrayed by Robyn Cohen, feels she's prepared to meet the dragon, but countering those saw-edged teeth and grasping claws doesn't seem to be an option. This dragon has been primed to diminish predators since she arrived in Canada—an unwanted baby in an orphan shipment from Eastern Europe.

Bart Braverman is solid as Vincent in an unexplained turn as Sarah's confidante and housekeeper, dressed arcanely in housekeeper drag of housecoat, socks, suspenders, and headscarf. Artie (Patrick J. Rafferty) as Momma Grosberg's son—a dutifully ineffective wimp—makes his appearance after most of the shooting's over. Will there even be a wedding?

Act 2 jumps 40 years to a Holiday Inn in China, where Braverman, now believably playing a middle-aged Artie with unfortunate bathroom problems, is supporting 40-ish daughter Jennifer (an unrecognizable David) as she picks up an adoptive Chinese orphan baby. Where do these Grosbergs fit in to the picture? There are no reference points to a relationship between father and daughter with Sarah and the aforesaid Vincent. An unconnected couple (Rafferty and Cohen), are also in the hotel to pick up a Chinese baby and possibly squeeze in a quickie divorce. It shouldn't happen to a Chinese orphan!

The about-to-be-adopted baby, who may be critically damaged, is a questionable replacement for the defunct mother-in-law—the great-granddaughter Sarah never saw.

The 40-year gap in the play's timeline reduces interest in the future of the adopted baby and the then and the now of the situation. Fair to middling performances all around make this mildly interesting and more than a bit confusing. Howard Teichman directs. He deserves better material.

Presented by the West Coast Jewish Theatre at the Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., L.A. May 7–June 27. Thu.–Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. (323) 821-2449.

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