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They say: He’s Arab, she’s Jewish and nine months pregnant by him, but Israel has no civil marriage law. The Prime Minister and three visiting American Congressmen then inadvertently bring this sad situation to a frenzied and wickedly funny happy ending!
Allison’s Take: An Arab, a very pregnant Jew, and three U.S. Congressmen walk into an inn. No, its not the beginning of your least favorite dad joke. Its the premise of Making Love Legal, Sara Schabachs directorial debut. Set in Old Jerusalem just after the 1967 Six-Day Wara time when Jews and Arabs were not legally allowed to marry in Israelthe play highlights how outrageous antiquated rules can seem after a hefty dose of charming caricatures and contemporary hindsight.
Todays civil rights application, though, is certainly not lost on the audience, in part because its easy to fall in love with innkeeper Abduls foolhardy attempts to devise a way to marry his pregnant, Jewish girlfriend Miriam. (Also, in part, because Schabachs directors note tells the audience to thank the universe that we are at a time in our history when it is finally okay to love the person you love no matter whom they pray to, how they look or whom they vote for.)
The plot follows the couple as they woo U.S. Congressmen of three different religions, promising each Congressman that the couple will marry in his/her respective faith. The characters are hilariously exaggerated, most effectively in the character of Protestant Rep. Henrietta Pettigrew, whom actor Sarah Pullen injects with just the right amount of satirical allure. And given that each faith is equally ridiculed, there are enough jokes peppered throughout the fast-paced dialogue to keep the audience primed for the next one.
Ultimately, the warmth of the love conquers all theme is partially drowned out by the plays divergent second half, during which Abdul manipulates the Israeli Prime Minister into performing a Catholic wedding ceremony. Had writer Carl Frandsen carried the first halfs pithy humor into later scenes, Making Love Legal would have left the audience with more of the sympathetic sentiment it was going for.
See it if: You appreciate offending everyone, therefore offending no one.
Skip it if: You’d rather be in church.