Sheldon and Mrs. Levine: An Excruciating Correspondence

Sheldon and Mrs. LevineSummary: In a parody of the best-selling Griffin & Sabine, an angst-ridden young man and his eccentric, meddlesome mother trade blows over his latest infatuation in a series of hilarious letters.


Sheldon and Mrs. Levine: An Excruciating Correspondence, by Sam Bobrick and Julie Stein 7.0

Given how popular the ‘Griffin and Sabine‘ series was, it was inevitable that someone would find a way to poke fun at it; it was nearly impossible to emulate, so satire was likely the most natural form of expression. And given how much of a fan I am of the original books, it was inevitable that I would also pick up the spoof when given a chance.

‘Sheldon and Mrs. Levine: An Excruciating Correspondence’ doesn’t quite directly spoof the first book; its enigmatic tale is hard to emulate, so this one uses the basic concept of a back-and-forth series of letters and has a good time with it. Here, it’s the story of a son who’s trying to flee his overbearing mother, who keeps tracking him down.

I love the main premise: it’s quite funny to read him trying to tell her off and her not getting the point – or later trying to manipulate him emotionally in order to stay in touch; it takes real-life occurrences to a farcical level here. Sadly, the writing isn’t particularly inspired, and the exchanges aren’t exactly bristling with sharp dialogues.

Further to that, one of the key strengths of the original series was Nick Bantock’s artwork, which is as beautiful as it is esoteric. However, that is also incredibly difficult to replicate and near-impossible to spoof, so Bobrick and Stein offer art that is simplistic and a bit mundane. It may be contextually appropriate, but it pales in comparison.

And, while that’s not surprising, it’s still a disappointment.

‘Sheldon and Mrs. Levine: An Excruciating Correspondence’ has its funny moments, but it actually overstays its welcome, even though the book is brief and its letters are easy reads. I appreciate the idea, but I think that it could have been carried out in a more clever fashion. Still, it’s entertaining enough; it’s worth the brief investment of time.

If you stumble upon it somewhere.

Post scriptum: The concept was later developed as a 1-hour, two-person, theatrical play in the form of ‘The Outrageous Adventures of Sheldon and Mrs. Levine’. It was published by Samuel French and has been staged a few times. I’d be very curious to see how the concept works in that format. I might even go see it, should the occasion present itself…


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