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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Whole Megillah 2: Uncut: Why Can't Every Day Be Like Purim?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge Crank your graggers for Danny Webber and Alex Hessler
  • Crank your graggers for Danny Webber and Alex Hessler

When you think of Purim, the first things that come to mind probably aren't drag queens, a giant dildo, and Downton Abbey. But in Killing My Lobster and The Hub's riff on the Jewish holiday, contemporary pop culture references and in-your-face sexuality add to the Purim spirit. The Whole Megillah 2: Uncut marks a return of the companies' Purim schpiel, or traditional holiday skit. (Though with one sketch featuring a video of local drag queen celebrities such as Pollo del Mar and Matthew Martin, it's only "traditional" in the hardly strictly sense.) Some sketches have been revamped, others are new, but under the direction of Dan Wolf, the same merry holiday spirit prevails.

Don't remember Purim? It's the holiday that commemorates, you know, that time heroism and ingenuity saved the Jews from annihilation. But don't worry if you're only Jewish-ish or even 100 percent gentile. Only a couple of jokes are geared toward Hebrew school valedictorians. Before long, even the most unschooled will understand the important parts of the holiday: Esther (yay!) is a badass, and Haman (boo!) is the worst dude ever. You celebrate Haman's (boo!) undoing by getting drunk and eating cookies in the shape of his three-cornered hat. Eunuchs are somehow involved.

Before you walk into the theater, grab a gragger (a noisemaker). Spin whenever you like, but especially when someone says, "Haman" (boo!), to help drown out his name. Some of the show's best sketches find absurd excuses to use this bit as often as possible. (For the one featuring a quartet of Rastafarians, you can probably guess the genius punch line.)

The group's forays into music are also successful. Parodies of Oklahoma! and A Whole New World poke loving fun at what it means to be Jewish, and the six ensemble members (Andy Alabran, Millie DeBenedet, Wylie Herman, Alex Hersler, Ally Johnson, and Danny Webber) have the belty voices to match their broad comic acting. These better scenes keep the energy and community spirit high through sketches that don't rise as high. By the show's end, you might find yourself in the position of one of Danny Webber's characters: wishing every day could be like Purim.

The Whole Megillah 2: Uncut continues through Mar. 10 at the Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), S.F. and at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California (at Presidio), S.F. Admission is $15-$20; 292-1233 or .

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Lily Janiak

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