JEWTOPIA by Bryan Fogel and Sam Wolfson, directed by Avery Saltzman (Rubinoff/ Steinberg). At Diesel Playhouse (56 Blue Jays Way). To Dec 1. $41.50-$76.50. 416-971-5656. Rating: NNN
When it comes to chicken soup with matzah balls, there are two schools of Jewish thought: dense or fluffy. Theatre's not so different. Kushner or Miller provide big, dramatic bite. But for something lighter, try Fogel and Wolfson 's Jewtopia .
The off-Broadway hit comedy is about single, 30-somethings the Jewish Adam ( Matt Baram ) and wannabe-Jew Chris ( David Kerr ) who team up to meet women using the Internet dating site J-date. They call it Jewtopia, referring to the site's 15,000-plus members. The play revolves around Adam's horrible dates and Chris's pursuit of one woman.
Second City alum Baram nails the neurotic, desperate, religiously flailing Adam. Kerr takes a little longer to settle in as Chris, but the two play off each other well. In a terrific supporting cast, Jeanie Calleja earns the most laughs by fearlessly juggling multiple roles, especially as Adam's pubescent sister with a dialect that mixes teen attitude and bad braces.
Director Avery Saltzman allows for much mugging and Jerry Lewis-style zaniness, but he keeps it in check by grounding the actors with props, tables and chairs. At times, the rampant stereotypes become cloying, yet the show endears itself by humorously dissecting Jewish culture and is especially funny when Adam coaches Chris in the art of dining out as a Jew.
Graham Maxwell 's cartoonish sets work, but look like something from a community theatre, while costumer Sarah Melamed 's penchant for argyle comes straight from the closet of every Jewish male whose mother shops for him.
At two hours, the show could stand editing or cutting, but when it works, Jewtopia's better than a hot bagel on Bathurst.