If you want to relish a show with well fermented jokes like this one, you can see Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company’s A Pickle written by Deborah Yarchun and directed by Craig Johnson. The one-person, one-hour show centered on Twin Cities local Doris Rubenstein — and her pickles — seems to be more a descriptive telling than a dramatic play.
With a jar for baking, a jar for upbringing, and a jar for retirement ideas, you wouldn’t think a simple jar of pickles belongs. But that jar of pickles might be the most important, or at least the most overarching, of all the jars.
After rambling about pickles and lineage, Sally Wingert believably becomes Doris to give an account of when the Minnesota State Fair canning competition judges disqualified her traditional Jewish pickles and her quest for justice for more than just herself. Though just a woman telling her story, there are undertones of issues deeper than a discarded jar of pickles: antisemitism, or at least ignorance and exclusion.
Wingert portrays Doris and her chutzpah well, though the character simply tells her story directly to the audience. Theater seating and lighting would be ideal for keeping audience focus, but the outdoor setting along with minimal props works to aid the informal storytelling style. There is even a touch of audience interaction, first with a raise of hands and later dispersed audience members ringing bells and immersing the audience in the flood of phone calls Doris receives in response to her surprisingly relatable pickle plight.
Doris’ advice from the show is “if it ain’t fun, don’t do it.” Based on that, I would not recommend the show. There are a few good jokes, but most are forced, and Doris’ story is compelling, but she bounces between the State Fair drama and other life stories that are relevant but drawn out. Though whether you have fun at the show or not, you will learn something about local recent history that is relatable for any Jewish, State Fair going Minnesota resident.
A Pickle is running at various outdoor locations in the Twin Cities through June 19. All performances are sold out, but you can enter a lottery for any available seats.