Theater review: Horses on the Highway
Dysfunctional families are the basic dough of drama from Aeschylus on, but to matter a play needs more than surface in content and execution. Where is the meat of Horses?
Theater Photo: Rebecca Crown Auditorium
Horses on the Highway
By Savyon Liebrecht
Directed by Tzipi Pines
Bet Lessin, October 28
The unsubtle direction of Savyon Liebrecht’s Horses on the Highway is apparently
predicated on the idea that we, the audience, won’t get it. Won’t get what? From
the very beginning, a surreal enactment of the graveside kaddish, we are made
aware that there are secrets that will reveal themselves during the 90 minutes
the play takes.
The scene, admirably designed by Eran Atzmon, is a
glass-walled, misty tree-backed home in a moshav near the busy Geha
There, Yoni (Yoram Toledano) and his wife Nina (Dafna Rechter)
raise petunias and hurl aloft cryptic hints. Petunias, we are told, are popular,
colorful, quick-blooming annuals, which, at the end of their season “dry up and
must be uprooted.” Petunias are symbolic.
The cryptic hints are directed
mostly at younger brother Yirmi (Micha Selectar) whom the couple seems to hate,
fear and long for. Yirmi has been in Alaska for the past 20 years and neither of
them want him to come home for his newly-deceased father’s funeral. Nor will
their son Ido (Or Ben-Melech) be informed of Grandpa’s death, a decision that
his adoring sister Idit (the very excellent Yuval Scharf) strongly
Sternly, papa’s bossy ex-lover Judit (Liat Goren), wearing a
fright wig and a trumpeting yekke accent, says Yirmi must come, that Papa
expressly demanded it. She provides, hopefully deliberately, much needed comic
relief for unfolding catastrophe.
With Yirmi’s arrival emerge inevitably
cats from their bags and skeletons from their closets. It transpires that honest
Yoni is actually manipulative and conniving, that wronged Yirmi is actually not
only an unredeemed egotist but a moral coward, and that fragile, dependent Nina
is actually mentally unstable.
Toledano, Selectar and Schechter
skillfully take their characters from seeming to being as the painful secrets of
this very dysfunctional family are torn from them.
are the basic dough of drama from Aeschylus on, but to matter a play needs more
than surface in content and execution. Where is the meat of Horses?