BY TAMMY SCILEPPI
Everyone knows or remembers a beloved grandma. An amazing, wise lady whose precious pearls of wisdom they hold near and dear to their hearts.
Whether she’s your favorite abuela or abuelita (Spanish), nonna (Italian), halmoni (Korean), babushka (Russian) or Jewish bubbe (pronounced buh-bee in Yiddish), you no doubt have fond memories of special moments spent together.
If you’re a grandson or granddaughter, don’t miss this outrageous, mind-blowing comedy show, which premiered Mother’s Day weekend and is playing at Queens Theatre (located in blooming Flushing Meadows Corona Park) this Wednesday through May 26. Described as well-acted and intelligent, with humor and heart, “Relic, or, I Was Bubbie’s Favorite” by Joel Feinman (as told to Lojo Simon) – kinda reminds everyone, no matter their culture, of their own wonderful grandmothers (or great grandmas).
Conjured up by playwright Lojo Simon, directed by Will Pomerantz, and set in Queens and beyond, “Relic” explores the true meaning of family ties, society’s all-powerful cult of celebrity and fame, along with controversial stuff, like religion – as experienced by a lost and questioning grandson, whose angst-filled search for recognition and fortune ultimately brings him to a place of peace in a crazy world.
Rising NYC star Adam Green becomes struggling actor Joel Feinman, who takes audience members on a totally unexpected and at times, surreal and hilarious, truth-finding journey from his bubbie’s attic in Rego Park – where he finds a mysterious ancient box that transforms his life – to wondering about circumcisions, Jesus Christ, and goats. After crossing the Atlantic, Joel finds himself at the British Museum then discovers his ancestral roots in Eastern Europe and rubs elbows with possible fortune at Sotheby’s. His strange trip comes full circle and ends with … even more goats. During these perplexing adventures Green seamlessly morphs into a bunch of colorful, multiple personalities that he meets along the way.
The actor, who lives in Brooklyn and grew up in Manhattan, said he didn’t call either of his grandmothers ‘bubbe,’ just simply “Grandma.” Here, he recalls his maternal, backgammon-playing grandma, Sally.
“The grandmother I was closer to was originally from Brooklyn. Who wasn’t? Sally and my grandfather lived not terribly far from where my wife and I live now,” Green said.
“After my grandfather passed when I was 9, Sally became the leader and true matriarch of the family. She had this great gravelly voice, which I’m going to chalk up to her 75+ years of smoking. And, you know, she would hold court at any family gathering. Conversations would inevitably turn to her telling a story about, like, the Domino Sugar Factory or her father, who was the King of the Peddlers down on Orchard Street during the Depression.”
He added: “Sally was extremely sharp. Even when her body was failing her as she hit 90, her mind was as quick as ever. That’s a blessing.”
Describing the show, Pomerantz called it “an incredible tour-de-force for an actor” who plays 20 different characters with different accents. “It is a real joy to watch an actor transform himself,” he said.
“Adam Green’s ability to articulate with his body and his voice and make these lightning-quick changes, is really just a joy to behold.”
Weighing in on the play’s “cult of celebrity and fame,” the actor remarked, “I think a lot about how some people use that as mouthpieces for good causes, and how they can come under fire for doing such a thing.”
He continued: “Well, heck, it’s easy to point at our glorification of modern famous people and say, ‘That’s why our civilization is going down the toilet; because people would rather see what Kylie Jenner’s wearing, rather than read about dying polar bears,’ but hasn’t this been a phenomenon for … ever? Long before Paris Hilton or the entire Jenner-Kardashian family came along, there were people who were famous not for anything they did, but because of who they were, or what family they were lucky enough to be born into. The society pages of the 19th-century newspapers weren’t so much different from us scrolling Twitter to see what Cardi B said, right?
“Of course, the devilish Internet has made all of this so ubiquitous,” Green added. “The things we value in society are really, really bad and backwards. I think about celebrity because I’m raising two kids and I want them to look up to the right people and value the right things.”
Green has performed on many stages. His TV credits include “Law & Order: SVU,” “The Village,” “Billions,” “The Good Wife” and “Madame Secretary.”
For showtimes/tickets: https://queenstheatre.org/relic-or-i-was-bubbies-favorite-joel-feinman-told-lojo-simon