adam baum and the jew movie by Daniel Goldfarb, directed by Alisa Palmer, with Richard Greenblatt, Rick Roberts and Dylan Rosenthal. Presented by Canadian Stage (26 Berkeley). Runs to May 4, Monday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday 1:30 pm, Saturday 2 pm. $20-$69, limited Monday pwyc and same-day half-price rush. 416-368-3110. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Oy, vey. Better you should read Neil Gabler's An Empire Of Their Own: How The Jews Invented Hollywood than sit on your tuchus watching Adam Baum And The Jew Movie. Mining many of Gabler's themes, Daniel Goldfarb imagines fictional Jewish movie mogul Samuel Baum (Richard Greenblatt) trying to get gentile writer Garfield Hampson Jr. (Rick Roberts) to pen a script in 1946 about Jews in America to compete with a rival studio's "Jew movie," Gentleman's Agreement.
To enhance the script, Baum invites Hampson to his son Adam's (Dylan Rosenthal) bar mitzvah, and the two men -- the son, poorly directed by Alisa Palmer, is as incidental as his punning name is misleading -- hash over concepts like racism, assimilation and the American dream.
There's enough thematic material for a play, but Goldfarb saves up his best dialogue and ideas for the last 10 minutes, when everything's so rushed it feels melodramatic and maudlin. Also, why stage something so static it's essentially a radio play?
Roberts, with his chiselled Dick Tracy profile, looks convincing in period, but he's stuck with a two-dimensional character. His supposedly successful screwball comedy writer spouts humourless socialist dogma and wants to write a movie called Soil In Utopia. What can you do with a role like this?
In the end, it's Greenblatt's show. His larger-than-life movie mogul is a brash bundle of contradictions: sensuous yet sensitive, self-deluding yet perceptive, warm-hearted yet bottom-line savvy.