Presented by Titanic Theatre Company
By David Ives
Directed by Sarah Gazdowicz
Review by Travis Manni
(Cambridge, MA) I’ve never been overwhelmed with the desire to make the spontaneous, probably unreasonably rash, decision to move to another country just from watching a play. But I’ll be damned if I wasn’t ready to catch the next red-eye to Poland after witnessing the Titanic Theatre Company’s production of Polish Joke.
To say that this show was funny would be an understatement, and to say it was hilarious would be a disservice. This show and the cast that comprise it are such a hysterical riot that I had to train myself to control my laughter so that I wouldn’t miss even one of the show’s surplus of witty one-liners, which is quite challenging in a small theatre in the round space.
We meet Jasiu when he is a young, impressionable child. And Polish. He, his family, his neighborhood, and everything in his life, is very, very Polish. Or so he’s been told. He becomes so certain that his Polish heritage defines him, particularly his Polish luck, which is to say he is rather unlucky and dimwitted, that he denies his nationality until it becomes a haunting stigma that consumes his life.
I went into Polish Joke knowing close to nothing about Polish history, its culture or traditions. To give you a taste of what I mean, I didn’t even know that “Polack” was a derogatory term for a Polish person. And while I learned a great deal more from this play, what it really offered was a whimsical hyper realistic world that I was more than willing to buy into.
The cast of this show is undeniably the most entertaining aspect of the production. The way they collaborate on stage and bounce off of each other is such a privilege to behold that Polish Joke will likely serve as my measuring stick for comedy plays going forward. They weave so many characters and storylines together with such confident delight that it’s impossible not to fall in love with every single one. Their phenomenal performances, both together in group scenes and individually, is worth seeing Polish Joke alone.
My one gripe with the show is simply that there were no clear indicators to suggest how much time has passed between scenes. But the disregard for time fits easily enough into Ives’ style, which doesn’t seek to ground the story, or orient the audience that much either. Instead, you have to give in to the dream-like aspect of the show to appreciate it. But if you can do this, I promise, even if you don’t get all of the Polish jokes that are planted throughout the show, you will laugh your fucking arse off.
Polish Joke runs for 2 hours with an intermission. You can purchase tickets here.