If you’ve lived in Richmond for the past couple of years, you’ve possibly seen Slash Coleman. His one-man show, “The Neon Man and Me,” found not only
great success locally but Coleman took it on the road cross-country, for a run off-Broadway, and even found a place for it as a PBS special. Last year,
Coleman was also named as one of Style Weekly’s “Top Forty Under Forty” to look out for as they make their splash across the River City.
Well, splash time’s not quite over for Slash Coleman. In fact, his next artistic wave is here with his newest one-man show, “Slash Coleman Has Big Matzo
Opening tonight at Comedy Sportz Improv Theatre, “Matzo Balls” is a performance that explores the cultural relationship Americans have with Judaism. Told
from the perspective of Coleman’s life, who he grew up Jewish in a non-Jewish community where he learned to keep his Judaism mum, “Matzo Balls,” is
comically entertaining, intimate, and just as quirky as the title portrays.
Written and performed entirely by Coleman himself (aside from the help of some impromptu audience volunteers) and directed by Christine Walters, “Matzo
Balls” showcases Coleman’s ability to go from character to character with artistic integrity, political acuteness and very little set design.
The highlight performance of the evening comes from Coleman’s portrayal of the polyester-suited Jew in search of the triangle. Fully decked out in costume
with a thick strap-on beard and curly peyos (sideburns), it is as though this character completely releases Coleman to the comic realm of his performance,
allowing him to fully embrace the stage.
When he finds instructions for using a Fairy God Jewish Mother in his blazer pocket, Coleman takes his guard down and allows the oddness of the situation to
lead him on a ride that becomes even odder, and more hilarious.
While there are connotations associated with the “Matzo Ball” that may make shy ones blush, Coleman uses the metaphor to cross the bridge of traditional
gender expectations that exist not only for a Jewish male within the family, but also for the Jewish identity in America.
There were times, however, when I expected more from Coleman’s performance and it felt as though he was reading memory cue lines in his mind. Given the
intimate and personal material Coleman was drawing from, there was a certain level of emotional rawness that was periodically missing.
Not to say that I wasn’t laughing as he danced and sang to a contemporary Jewish song with a faux-pregnant belly stuffed under his tuxedo shirt, peyos
swinging to the beat. But I suppose I kept looking for him to continuously recreate that same energy and spunk throughout the rest of the show instead of in
And if it sounds like I’m being picky, that’s only because I believe in the underlying power of this play. With “Matzo Balls,” Coleman hits on the perspective
that it is our own responsibility to fully identify and celebrate the depth of who we are, instead of berating ourselves for who we are not.
And to never forget to ask your Matzo ball for advice along the way.
”Slash Coleman Has Big Matzo Balls” plays at Comedy Sportz Improv Theatre tonight and Saturday and next Friday and Saturday. Show starts at 10 p.m.
Tickets are $10 per person. For more information call (804) 266-9377.
Making Matzo Matter
Review: One-man show blends
views of Judaism and comedy.
Deanna Geneva Lorianni
Friday, June 22, 2007
The beginning scene places Coleman behind the microphone in a mock WWII-era radio show announcing
what is the public beginning of the Jewish Holocaust. Jumping from broadcaster to storyteller without
missing a beat, Coleman immediately introduces the audience with an integral theme of the play—the
emotional relationships we all share with historical identities.
From then on, we seem to enter a comic arena that is almost akin to “Alice in Wonderland,” only instead of
searching for a white rabbit Coleman leads the audience in a hunt for his missing yellow triangle that will
make his Star of David complete.
Along the way we meet a variety of characters that aid Coleman in his quest, such as a polyester-suited
devout Jew who accidentally becomes impregnated by a Fairy God Jewish Mother when her spell goes
awry; a Jewish hand-puppet super hero named “Super Cock;” as well as the spiritual mentorship of a big,
orange, Matzo ball.