The Spotted Tiger
By Yaakov Shabtai
At the Rovina, Habimah National Theater
Hanan Snir's adaptation of the late Yaakov Shabtai's 1985 period play, if weak in many respects, is strong in nostalgia. Those of us who still remember oldtimers' tales of the Tel Aviv seashore in the torrid Twenties will be deeply touched by moments in this production.
While the maritime and architectural details depicted in the set are disappointingly feeble, the characters on the whole are strongly reproduced and movingly performed by a team of mainly veteran actors. Striking too, and often hilarious, is Shabtai's use of now outdated Hebrew verbiage, and his subtle play on words.
The roles are played with deep veracity and humor, be they the grave, red-hot Halutz (Aharon Almog), Shoshana, the one-time soprano demoted to waitress (Liat Goren), Panye Ugizer, the Polish gentleman enterpreneur (Avraham Mor), Chayot, the endearing theatrical tailor (Michael Koresh), or Ruchama, the seafront femme fatale who Osnat Fishman portrays beautifully.
Avi Kushnir leads the show as Fink, a charlatan dreamer who stirs the hopes of the stricken pioneers with his idea of setting up an international circus on their golden sands.
One of Tel Aviv's most popular comedians, Kushnir's bantering style is electric but belongs more to the comedy of his last show, Shlomo HaMelech and Shlomo HaSandlar, than to the nostalgic sentiment that infuses The Spotted Tiger.