Reviews

Just for Us ****

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 26, 2023: Just for Us, Alex Edelman’s very funny, sometimes serious monologue on being Jewish in America, premiered at the Cherry Lane Theatre in 2021, and then moved to the Soho Playhouse and finally the Greenwich House Theater. The show has finally made it to Broadway.

Alex Edelman

By: Paulanne Simmons

June 26, 2023: Just for Us, Alex Edelman’s very funny, sometimes serious monologue on being Jewish in America, premiered at the Cherry Lane Theatre in 2021, and then moved to the Soho Playhouse and finally the Greenwich House Theater. The show has finally made it to Broadway. 

Edelman’s stage at the Hudson Theatre, is empty save for a few stools that he uses to great advantage. He also roams athletically around the stage filling it up with his awkward but somehow powerful presence. But one can’t help missing the intimacy of those smaller venues. Because this is an intimate story.

Alex Edelman

Edelman, who was born into an Orthodox Boston family, was troubled by the anti-Semitic rhetoric surrounding him both off and online. For a reason not satisfactorily explained (he thinks he’s going to charm them?) he decides to attend a meeting of wannabe Nazis.

The storyline follows Edelman’s reactions to the agenda (mostly bobbing his head up and down), his wooing of Chelsea (a particularly attractive racist girl) and his descriptions of the various white supremacists he encounters. It ends when Edelman is eventually found out. 

Alex Edelman

Edelman digresses many times along the way. The best digressions are the ones in which he talks about the difficulty of maintaining a Jewish identity in a Christian worldHe tells us his real name is David Shimon ben Elazar Reuven Alex Halevi Edelman. He laughs at his brother AJ for being a member of the Israeli  Olympics luge team. 

The funniest part of the show is undoubtedly the segment describing his mother’s decision (over his father’s protests) to celebrate Christmas with a Christian friend who had suffered several losses during the year. The children’s discovery that Santa Claus comes down the chimney in Christian houses and leaves presents is priceless. Edelman’s reporting of the school principal’s reaction when he learns of the Edelmans’ apostacy is even better.

Alex Edelman

Jews in America live in a particularly dangerous and misunderstood territory. To certain minorities they are white, and thus have all the advantages of white privilege. To the racists they are foreign trespassers who should be eliminated, one way or the other.

In Edelman’s monologue, this can be funny. In reality, it is not.

Just for Us runs until August 19  at the Hudson Theatre, 141 West 44 Street.
Photography: Mathew Murphy

Alex Edelman