The Arty Semite

Three Josh Cohens Just Aren't Enough

By Curt Schleier

  • Print
  • Share Share

“The Other Josh Cohen” may be the reason they invented off-Broadway. On the face of it, this clever and original musical about fate and Jewish guilt may seem too slight for the Great White Way. But in truth, it is witty and smart and far more entertaining than many of the projects that open (and usually quickly close) on Broadway.

There are actually three Josh Cohens in the production. One lives in the present, as a narrator played by David Rossmer (who co-wrote book, music and lyrics). His doppelgänger, played by Steve Rosen (the other co-writer), is Cohen of a year ago.

The problem is that a little over two years ago, the doppelgänger came home and discovered his apartment had been robbed. Everything was gone, from his computer to the cake he’d left in the refrigerator to his sole porno DVD, “Oversexed Injury Lawyers.” The only thing left behind was a CD, “Neil Diamond III,” which is certainly not his best material.

Cohen feels like the burglary is the final insult. It started in grade school, when Betsy refused his entreaties because he had cooties, and continued in high school when Jen turned him down because the poem he sent her “made me think of Shel Silverstein, which is perfect if I was 13.”

Thing didn’t get better in college when the play he wrote embarrassed his one and only girl friend to the point of breaking up. Since then he disappointed his parents, who wanted him to be a lawyer, not a would-be writer. And despite his annual promises that this year will be different, Valentine’s Day is a disaster.

Josh is convinced fate has it in for him, and, given all the evidence, it’s hard to argue. Until…

He goes to his mailbox and discovers a check made out to him for $56,000. It comes from Irma Coen, who he assumes is a distant relative. Though his parents have no idea who she might be, they and everyone he asks suggest he deposit the check as soon as he can get to the bank. His great grandfather, a Hasid who was apparently very fertile, left aunts and cousins sprinkled from sea to sea.

But Cohen’s Jewish guilt stikes every time he heads out the door for the bank. Finally he calls Irma in West Palm Beach and discovers she’s a nice old grandmother who sent the check to her son, the other Josh Cohen — this would be Josh Cohen number three — but was off one digit in the address.

I won’t spoil the ending, but it is happy, and so you will be. There are four other members of the ensemble, all onstage musicians/singers/actors who assume a variety of roles and are all excellent. The songs are bouncy and lyrics funny. In the end you’ll be sorry there aren’t more Josh Cohens around.

“The Other Josh Cohen” plays at the Soho Playhouse through November 11.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Theater, The Other Josh Cohen, David Rossmer, Steve Rosen, Curt Schleier

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.