Titanic Theatre Company's current production of "Polish Joke" by David Ives is one of the best ensemble pieces I have seen in a long while. I have not laughed this hard at the theater in many moons. But it is not just a comedy. This show is a poignant and thoughtful commentary on issues of ethnic identity, stereotyping, discrimination and family.
The play is brilliantly written, and executed with precision timing by a great cast, under the superb direction of Sarah Gazdowicz.
Let's talk about this remarkable cast:
- Will Bowry - As is the case with each cast member with the exception of Dan Prior, they play multiple characters. In the case of Mr. Bowry, he plays a broad range - from Uncle Roman, to a Sanitation Worker, to a Polish Immigrant who has tunneled to America from Poland, to a less than sympathetic Doctor. He is particularly effective as Uncle Roman, dispensing blue collar pseudo-wisdom to his young nephew Jasiu.
- Becca A. Lewis - Her Magda is a triumph. Dressed in a nurse's uniform the colors of the Polish flag - red and white - she plays a game of "Polish Army Hospital, with young Jasiu. She is also effective as Rachel, Jasiu's Jewish fiancee.
- Janelle Mills - Ms. Mills is wonderful as a Florist, as Mrs. Flanagan with a wildly exaggerated Irish Brogue, and as a Stewardess.
- Dan Prior - Jasiu starts out as a rather bland figure, a young boy bewildered by his Uncle's advice to be something other than Polish. As he attempts to reinvent himself as a variety of aliases and alter egos, Mr. Prior shows off his dramatic range.
- Matthew Zahnzinger - Among a truly outstanding cast, Mr. Zahnzinger truly distinguishes himself. His Priest put me in mind of Barry Fitzgerald as the iconic Father Fitzgibbon in the Bing Crosby film "Going My Way." His Mr. O'Flanagan, the faux-Irish travel agent, is one long series of put-on brogues and Irish jigs.
|Becca A. Lewis as Magda|
Dan Prior as Jasiu
William Bowry as Uncle Roman
Titanic Theatre Company
Central Square Theatre
Through October 18th
Good comedy always prompts us to think more deeply about important issues by making our current take on them look ridiculous. This comedy succeeds in this mission. The playwright's message is summed up in a final valedictory comment by Uncle Roman as he once again seeks to advise his now grown nephew, now that Jasiu had come full circle and embraced his Polish heritage and identity: "People aren't different, people are exactly the same."
Come and join the party. It is good for us to laugh at ourselves and the ridiculousness of telling Polish jokes.
Did you hear the one about the Polack who locked his keys in the car? . . . . .
The play runs only through this weekend. Do not miss it, or the joke's on you!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Wednesday, October 14 at 7:30
Thursday,October 15 at 7:30
Friday, October 16 at 8:00PM
Saturday, October 17 at 3:00PM and 8:00PM
Sunday, October 18 at 3:00PM
Central Square Theater
450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA