Gefilte Fish and Chips

Ben Miles Reviews - Theater
Print

In the same way that you don't think of combining gefilte fish with chips of any sort, one wouldn't necessarily think that a Jewish Englishman would be a master musician, a raconteur, and a performance artist. But when it comes to Daniel Cainer and his solo-show, Gefilte Fish & Chips, Cainer demonstrates a unique and winning combination of aforementioned nationality, ethnicity, and talents; he’s an unlikely hodgepodge of potentialities conveyed through a warm and pleasingly quirky performance persona.

 

Through a melodically laced monologue, Cainer shares his life story while allowing for audience participation. For instance, in his song, "Bad Rabbi," we theatergoers get to be The Pips to Cainer’s Gladys Knight. That is, we get to sing the refrain, “Bad Rabbi…Bad, Bad Rabbi.” It’s an unexpectedly engaging exercise. The problem is that while Cainer’s program is enjoyable, affecting, and, at times, bittersweet, the narrative isn’t always easy to follow.

 

Sure, we hear Cainer’s stories of yearning while maturing and shaggy dog escapades – twisting tales wagging with irony and incongruence. In what is referred to as his “mid-life Kosher Crisis,” Cainer began a rigorous self-inquiry, searching for answers to existential questions such as “Who he is? What is he? Why is he?  And, what might be wrong with him?” He finds the answers to these queries in two words: Jewish and British!

Through the indispensible technical direction by Carlos San Roman, the show is loaded with screen projections of a black and white urban skyline, which morphs into mind-shifting visions of outer space, as well as family photos that trace the Cainer lineage and familial heritage. With sound and light by Sterling OC Productions, the ample Huntington Beach Library Theater is filled with all the attributes of a first-class theatrical production. What’s more, we in the audience become acquainted with some tried and true Yiddish-isms. And, oy vey, Gefilte Fish & Chips is only 80-minutes long and without an intermission. But, in terms of play-going, you could do worse.

Gefilte Fish & Chips continues at the Huntington Beach Library Theater through March 22. Evening performances are Thursdays at 7 p.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Matinees are Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 2 p.m. For reservations, call 855-448-7469 (855-HIT SHOW). For online ticketing and further information, visit www.PlayhouseInfo.com.