“Do This One Thing For Me” at the Barrow Group Theatre

May 2, 2015 | Off-Broadway | Tags:
Written and Performed by Jane Elias
Directed by Tracy Bersley
Reviewed by Sander Gusinow, Theatre Reviews Limited

How do we remember The Holocaust in 2015? Writer/performer Jane Elias grapples with this behemoth question in her profoundly moving, exquisitely personal solo show ‘Do This One Thing For Me’ currently running at Barrow Group.

The play chronicles Jane’s relationship with her late father, a Greek-Jewish Holocaust survivor. His own family having been brutally murdered in concentration camps, all Mr. Elias wants is for his little girl is for her to have a family of her own, a desire that come into conflict with his daughter’s more modern sensibilities. As their bond blossoms throughout the years, Jane’s father strengthens her with his tale of perseverance and nags her with his desire for her to settle down. Eventually, Jane’s journey with her father leads her on a pilgrimage to Auschwitz, where she is able to give him a gift worth his lifetime of support.

Jane captures the charming character of her father with playful affection and endearing nuance. Boomeranging between her father’s tales of horror and the trials of being a single woman in the 21st century, Ms. Elias delivers a dynamic performance that’s as quirky as it is moving. Under the elegant direction of Tracy Bersley, Jane ebbs in and out of her various characters, settings, ages, and moods with both precision and ease. Bersley instills a controlled vigor in Jane which plays to her performer’s strengths.

A slow build of stunning emotion, the show’s only real hindrances come in the form of side-bits that don’t quite serve the overall tale. Jane has a near-miss with a dashing Australian photographer that never quite delivers. She also has a curious opening dream speech that doesn’t come to fruition later on. Perhaps these tidbits are lost on a show with such inexhaustible beauty elsewhere.

Despite some small grievances, “Do this One Thing For Me” is a soulful, contemporary triumph. Ms. Elias has created the best solo show since “The Lion.” Not only that, she answers the dogging question of “How do we remember The Holocaust?” in splendid fashion. We remember the people who suffered and died, and we take to heart the lessons of love, family, and spirit they had to teach us. Wherever these innocent victims may have come from, Jane Elias reminds us that they were all our family.