White kids dig rap. Even Jews. It’s not a particularly unusual phenomenon. The Beastie Boys are one of the oldest rap groups around, and they are indisputably the original Jewboy B-boys. On their latest album, Ad Rock goes so far as to rhyme “Piazza” with that Passover staple, “matzoh.” And as the New York Times recently pointed out under the headline, “Yo! Or Is It Oy?,” there’s a definite trend afoot: “These days mixing Jewish identity with the sounds of hip-hop is far from uncommon.” You would think the performer Cleetus (nee Jon Eric) Friedman, who grew up a runty Jew in the suburbs of Baltimore, might have something interesting to say about all this cross-cultural mingling. He doesn’t. In his Puma tracksuit and headset mic, he takes the stage—pristinely tagged with a cityscape and the show’s title—for this generic-feeling one-man show that touches on well-worn tropes such as divorce and the death of his father. “I’ve been hip-hop since the day of my briss,” he raps at the outset and then launches into straight-faced, treacle-filled monologues, one of which begins, “I remember my father. I just don’t remember him being there.” An honest sentiment, to be sure, but a cliché, as well. Friedman does pull off a funny line here and there. His Mom, obsessed with the intercom system in their home, would “do an all-page: ‘Breakfast is ready,’ like Big Brother, but it was Big Mother.” But in terms of racial identity or how Friedman’s African-American friends might have perceived his obsessive interest in hip-hop culture—complex issues with plenty of meat on the bone—little is addressed or explored. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.