What happens at Rothstein’s

Queen’s Associate Professor John Lazarus releases The Grandkid, the story of unconventional familial roommates

Julius Rothstein (Sam Malkin) and granddaughter Abby (Sophia Fabiilli) aren’t your typical university roommates.
Image by: Simona Markovik
Julius Rothstein (Sam Malkin) and granddaughter Abby (Sophia Fabiilli) aren’t your typical university roommates.

John Lazarus’ new play, The Grandkid seems autobiographical. But the drama professor says the story about a student and her grandfather isn’t based on anyone specific.

The comedy tells the story of first-year university student Abby Rothstein, who moves in with her grandfather, Professor Julius Rothstein, to circumvent living costs.

The two agree to a rule that will guarantee mutual satisfaction in their new living arrangement — what happens at Rothstein’s stays at Rothstein’s.

Rothstein Sr., played by Sam Malkin, is twice-widowed and isn’t a typical grumpy grandfather. The film professor permits and encourages cursing, is open about his pot-smoking and activism and is comfortable with his granddaughter having a sex life.

Malkin has been Lazarus’ friend since 1985, working with him on the playwright’s 1985 Village of Idiots. Malkin offers a teddy-bear performance as Rothstein Sr. He even gets away with blunders, making it seem like a natural part of his elderly character.

Lazarus worked as an actor for 30 years, followed by careers as a critic, broadcaster, playright and screenwriter. He’s been a Queen’s professor since 2000.

The hockey-loving Rothstein Jr., played by Sophia Fabiilli, is passionate, assertive and respectful of her grandfather’s charity.

Neither actor’s choices are perfectly refined, but what is undeniable is an authentic chemistry between the two.

Between the two, they’re the only characters in the play. Fabiilli is strong, but Malkin’s genuine emotions are the highlight, eliciting laughter and tears from Wednesday night’s audience at the Baby Grand.

The Baby Grand’s small setting creates a perfect domestic intimacy. You feel like you’re sitting with them in the room — what happens at Rothstein’s really does stay at Rothstein’s.

The Grandkid plays at the Baby Grand Theatre until Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are on Saturdays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $24 for general admissions and $17 for students.

The above article has been changed to reflect the following correction:

John Lazarus’ grandchildren have not attended Queen’s University. The plot of the play wasn’t autobiographical. The Journal regrets the error.


John Lazarus, The Grandkid, Theatre Kingston, Theatre review

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