Review: Handle With Care

Handle With Care; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday; $23-$35. B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300; Through January 3.
Rated 4.0

Grandma’s body is missing and has to be found in 24 hours so her granddaughter can ship it back to Israel for a proper Jewish burial. And it’s Christmas Eve. And the story here is presented in both English and Hebrew dialogue.

B Street Theatre’s Handle With Care, by playwright Jason Odell Williams, sounds like an improbable holiday mashup because it is. This light romantic comedy is filled with irrational coincidences, improbable plot lines and unlikely love connections. But in the end, Handle With Care works because it gives us less schmaltz and more heart.

And most of the heart comes from the four-member cast—a versatile Stephanie Altholz as the cynical, vulnerable granddaughter Ayelet, Eve Sigall as the well-intentioned grandmother Edna, Tyler Pierce as lonely mensch translator Josh, and Jason Kuykendall as the bumbling delivery driver Terrance.

The story takes place in a Virginia hotel room where Terrance is trying to explain to Ayelet that he’s lost her grandma’s body while trying to deliver it to the airport. Because Israeli visitor Ayelet only speaks Hebrew, Terrance calls in his childhood buddy Josh who “speaks Jewish” to translate. Turns out Josh only knows very limited Hebrew from his bar mitzvah days, but is willing to help.

We get the grandmother-granddaughter back stories through flashback scenes. And though granddaughter and her grandma only speak Hebrew, the scenes are delivered in English, and though a bit confusing at first, it all works.

Added charm arrives via the set changers in hotel uniforms who choreograph the rearranging of props between scenes of this sweet holiday love story.