Tiny, sturdy Sylvia Kauders' Mama has the stoic face of thousands of Jewish grandmothers before her. When she announces, deadpan in a fluffy bathrobe, to her son Ronnie, "Did you hear who's coming? The Momzer," the audience for Marty's Back in Town, a new play by attorney/author Norman Shabel at the Skybox at the Adrienne, laughs. A momzer is a jerk, a thorn in your side, and the audience knows: These are our mishpucha, our kind of people, and this is a comic family drama that will be sprinkled with liberal doses of Yiddish, in which crazy relatives will argue, eat, and reconcile, Neil Simon-style.
Except it's not. To be sure, there's Yiddish, meals, arguments, and reconciliations, but these signposts and a nostalgic New York setting (the play inexplicably occurs in 1984) are just about all Shabel's muddled, repetitive writing has in common with Simon's.