The Saline Selection: Jewish Mother

Veteran Philadelphia reporter Carol Saline on her pick for the holidays …

If you’re looking for holiday entertainment, don’t miss Judy Gold’s 25 Questions for a Jewish Mother. Gold bills herself as a 6’3”, conservative, kosher, gay mother of two, but you don’t have to fit into any of those categories to enjoy her humor about all of them. While most of the audience skewed Jewish the night I was there, her pungent observations have a universal quality.

Gold is a talented performer who combines the gifts of a stand-up comic, a terrific storyteller and accomplished actress. This 90-minute, one-woman show meanders through her life, the birth of her sons and her sometimes tortured but ultimately loving relationship with an over-protective, guilt-inducing, stereotypical Jewish mother. You sometimes get the feeling it wasn’t any easier to have Mrs. Gold for a mother than it was to have Judy for a daughter.

The title comes from a project that Gold and her writing partner Karen Kohlhaas conducted posing 25 questions about what it means to be a Jewish mother to an assortment of Jewish women all around the country. From these interviews and Gold’s personal experiences, they’ve woven a pastiche of comedy bits and monologues that beautifully balance the line between laughter and pathos. Some of her stories — like the one about her mother reporting her as a missing person when she was 45 minutes late coming home from school, and then serving coffee and cake to the cops who responded — will have you laughing out loud; others — like her character sketch of the orthodox Jewish mother recounting how she mourned the death of her AIDS-stricken son — will have you reaching for a hanky. The combination adds up to a totally satisfying evening.

Through December 21st at Suzanne Roberts Theatre. Tickets are $49.