Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fringe NYC Encore Series: Sex and the Holy Land

Lili's search for her libido in Sex and the Holy Land could be a metaphor for the play itself. There is some nice foreplay, but it ultimately fails to satisfy. Sex and the Holy Land is playing at the Soho Playhouse through September 22 as part of the Fringe Festival Encore Series, one of 19 shows from the original 200 plus chosen to extend its run.

Melanie Zoey Weinstein wrote the show and also plays Lili, a college junior who goes to Israel with her best friends Or (Sarah-Doe Osborne) and Chaya (Ruby Joy). Lili can't orgasm, Chaya is still struggling with the death of her father, and Or just seems to be going along for the ride. Their mothers haunt Lili (played expertly by Goldie Zwiebel, Michelle Slonim, and Susan Slatin) and speak the fears that every Jewish mother and daughter will recognize, from don't ride the bus to find a nice Jewish boy. The dialogue is fast and entertaining, but occasionally rings false, especially the conversations between Lili and the many men she meets. As someone who seems very uncomfortable with herself, she is far too honest, saying things like, "If we have sex I might cry. I'm a crymaxer." Some of this could be in the delivery. Weinstein screams all her lines, and Lili becomes a grating character prone to crazy outbursts. Though director Lee Gundersheimer's staging effectively makes use the wooden benches that make up the set, I wish he would have done more with his lead actress. I cared far more about the relationship between Or and Dan (Gabriel Sloyer), an American ex-Isreali soldier. His stories about his time in the army were the most compelling in the show (and not just because he often tells them shirtless) and their courtship seemed to take Or on an actual journey. This doesn't seem to be the story Weinstein wants to tell, though, and that's fine. The foundation for a few good plays are here, but this one just needs a little more focus.

For more information and tickets, click here.


Roy Gutierrez said...

Hey Linda

great seeing you at Matt Doyle's show last month! I hope you'll be there tonight for Hair benefit.

Like your blog!

Btw, I "tried" to search you on Facebook...not much luck though.

Take it E Z!

Linda said...

Hi Roy. I just tried to search for you on Facebook and couldn't find you either. I won't be at Joe's Pub tonight, but maybe I'll see you at another show soon.