Theater Review 88.
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The Good Woman of Szechwan
By Bertolt Brecht
Translated by Shimon Sandbank
Adapted and directed by Udi Ben-Moshe
Udi Ben-Moshe's pitch-perfect production of Good Woman offers a host of small felicities. There's the gentle humor; Keren Peles's attuned tunes and her choice of a mandolin to provide wistful accompaniment to the play's most tender moments; the instruments played by each character; Ofra Confino's marvelous muddle of costumes that reflect the characters wearing them; and the three initially spruce gods that grow cumulatively bedraggled - and on and on.
In Good Woman, Brecht (1898-1956) asks whether good can exist, when to survive in this world, evil appears to be a prerequisite; he then says we have to find the answer.
Seeking to prevent the world's destruction, the gods come down to find at least one good soul. Kind-hearted prostitute Shen Te (Ola Schur-Selektar) is the only one to shelter them. They reward her, but then she must invent heartless male "cousin" Shui Ta to deal with the greedy predators who batten on her seeming good-fortune.
Schur-Selektar is truly superb in the dual role, as are Dror Keren as water seller Wang and a one-man percussionist, Odeliah Moreh-Matalon as Mrs. Shin and Alon Dahan as Shu Fu the barber and other assorted characters. As they dexterously switch character and costume, the rest of the cast is spot-on every time.
Lily Ben-Nahshon's near-bare stage affords maximum opportunity for imagination. Ben-Moshe's lightest-of-touch direction not only allows for every tiny nuance, it manages to be Brechtian, Israeli and Jewish at the same time. What a show!