How many stereotypes can you fit into an hour and a half? Hermanas, a new comedy by Monica Yudovich, readily answers that question by methodically playing out every possible association with Jewish mothers and Latin men, though it is clearly done out of love. The play centers around two sisters, Lisette and Angie, who share everything, from an apartment, to avoidance of their mother, to boyfriends. Unfortunately, Hermanas comes across more as a loosely written pilot for an ethnic sitcom than a stage play. Much of the humor is predicated on the seemingly unlikely juxtaposition of Hispanic and Jewish cultures, presenting, for example, a doting mother just as likely to mash a tamale as a matzo ball. This is funny to a point, but it becomes redundant.
Still, there are some superbly funny moments where the shtick Latino works as a cross-cultural wonder. The mother, Telma (Kathryn Kates), adeptly plays the zealous busybody: reminding her children to share, she explains that when she was a younger sister, "everything was passed down to me…toys, clothes, toothbrushes." Her monologues on the phone to her daughter, unhinged from the encumbrance of plot progression, are the show's best moments. Also a standout is Paulo Andino as Eduardo, who plays up Lisette's hilariously vain former boyfriend with gusto, flexing his muscles in leopard-skin boxers while belting out "Besame Mucho."
As Lisette, Yudovich is overall a bit too uptight to be convincing, while Bridget Moloney's Angie is sweet if lacking in the sluttiness her character would seemingly require. A major problem is how facile the narrative is: a new, potential suitor for Lisette is introduced when he simply knocks on the family's door and announces that he is a new neighbor. Don't look here for plot innovation. But if you want a show that searches out the permutations of humor at the limited nexus of Jewish and Latin stereotypes, you are in luck.