Jamie M. Fox in MazelTov Cocktail
(© Carol Rosegg)
Jamie M. Fox in MazelTov Cocktail
(© Carol Rosegg)
The life of a Hollywood personal assistant is derailed by a family crisis in writer/performer Jamie M. Fox's intermittently amusing multi-character solo play, MazelTov Cocktail...an explosive family comedy, now at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre.

Making short jumps forwards and backwards in time, the 75-minute show tells the story of Alyssa, who works as a personal assistant to B-List celebrity Cheryl Holmes, and returns home after her brother is arrested for dealing cocaine. We are treated to scenes of Alyssa training the temp who will replace her, interactions between Alyssa and Cheryl, and Alyssa's conversations with family members both before and after her brother's trial. Sandra Goldmark's scenic design features shelves of binders, baskets, and other containers that initially indicate tidiness, but by the end of the performance have spilled out onto the stage as Alyssa's life gets messier and messier.

While the show's title might seem to indicate that the writer/performer will deal specifically with Jewish identity, that aspect of the show is surprisingly tangential. It does come up now and again, but is mostly expressed via a stereotypical accent for Alyssa's mother, a reference to JDate, and the desire that Alyssa's parents express for Jewish grandchildren.

MazelTov Cocktail contains some humorous moments, such as Alyssa's weight-watching mother discovering to her horror that her husband bought regular sour cream rather than the fat-free version. But a lot of the time, Fox seems to be pushing too hard and several of her laugh lines fail to land. She paints her characters in broad strokes, particularly the drug-addled girlfriend of Alyssa's brother, and a Latina ex-con whom Alyssa meets in the courtroom. Her depiction of the pretentious Cheryl scores some easy laughs and her main persona of Alyssa takes on additional dimensions as the show progresses.

Fox is at her best in the show's concluding monologue, in which Alyssa reads out a letter to her brother. Her emotional connection to the material is palpable, and the speech ends the show on a strong note. However, it's also a conclusion that doesn't seem entirely earned. Throughout the piece, we do see hints of Alyssa's dissatisfaction with her life and her resentment towards a brother who seems to be perpetually in trouble. But since director Maria Mileaf emphasizes a light tone for the majority of the show, the sudden switch to heavy drama seems too abrupt.