Theater Review: 'Anxiety Struck'

Also: Yinon Tzafrir's 'Stones.'

April 3, 2010 19:46
2 minute read.
Set in stone. 'Avanim.'

avanim play 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Anxiety Struck
By B. Michael and Ephraim Sidon
Edited and directed
by Moti Kirschenbaum
Habima, March 28

Anxiety Struck, or “Nifga’ay Harada” in Hebrew, takes on most of what plagues our society and mercilessly sends it up in a steady stream of songs and sketches that has the audience in fits of nearly continuous laughter.

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Satire, says the dictionary, ridicules vice or folly “for the ostensible purpose of exposing or discouraging [them],” and this show is satire at its most pungent and pointed. Whether it’s market forces, the bomb in Iran, media manipulation, persecution of the Arabs, religiosity or settler violence to order, the show revels in originality, imagination and a wonderful hutzpa.

Behind it all is a deep concern that we here have gone off the deep end, that without danger or the threat of it, whether real or spurious, we cannot function. Even worse, we have become passive, oblivious and uncaring.

Set designer Maya Hanoch has provided tongue-in-cheek medication: a backdrop of huge packages of pills with three more giant bottles on stage. Keren Peles’s bouncy music is neatly played by Amir Brand and actors Yael Levental, Dov Navon, Alon Neuman, Talli Oren and Tomer Sharon provide dazzling virtuoso turns as they present singly, in pairs, trios and as a team, the 19 numbers that make up the show. Wonderful stuff.

Created and staged
by Yinon Tzafrir
Co-directed by Daniel Tzafrani
Simta, March 25

What an irony that the very stones Hitler intended for his Victory Arch now form the basis of Natan Rappoport’s statue in Poland and Yad Vashem commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto fighters.

Orto-Da’s Stones was born of this provenance. The five actors, Avi Gibson Bar-El, Hezi Cohen, Yaniv Mouyal, Hila Spector, Moti Sabag and Yinon Tzafrir, skillfully made up to resemble statues, present the history of the Holocaust and the birth of the State of Israel in a moving, often very beautiful, sometimes gently witty series of tableaux backed by a soundtrack that evokes the various staged episodes. That’s the first half and it’s wonderful.

The second part – although the show runs without a break – seems to be a commentary on the first half, in that we have betrayed what it cost us so much to achieve. It doesn’t really work, not because it’s not executed as well, but because it lacks the clarity and the economy that so illumines the first half. That said, Stones is still exciting and challenging theater.

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