‘ROMEO AND JULIET’.
(photo credit: MAAYAN KAUFMAN)
The heart breaks. Of course it does. This is Romeo & Juliet, the most tender, lyrical, wrenching perception of young love that anybody ever wrote. Set it anywhere, any time and its beautiful simplicities will transcend whatever shape it takes. So it is with this R&J and what director Irad Rubinstein calls a “post-apocalyptic” vision when all that remains of the world we know is the unpredictable predictability of human nature.
Its most moving moment is when the bereft Old Capulet, played by the never-more-superb Amir Kriaf, kneels wordlessly to comfort the bereft Lady Montague (Adva Edni) beside the bodies of their children. Words have no place in this merciless world. The irony of their resting place is wordless too.
They lie in the center of a kind of mandala, symbol for a sacred space. As the light on this sacrilege slowly fades to black we have to think on the heavy price we pay for baseless hatred.
Heaven knows we have enough of it here.
The production is two hours long, and we’re not used to that any more.
Too bad! And this one works on all levels.
Strangely, as with Gesher’s Othello we have a set of catwalks and steps, except that in Svetlana Breger’s version they’re curved, and there’s two of them, both broken and rusty. Maor Zabar’s seemingly makeshift costumes are rusty and patched too. There’s lots of tattoos because it’s not so much families we have here as tribes.
The masks at the Capulets’ ball are gas masks, and remember the plastic we covered our windows with in the Gulf War? That’s also there. Poor Friar Laurence, played with a loving desperation by Muli Shulman, wears a tatty orange-pinky robe over his grubby tee.
More acting honors go to Avigail Harari’s high-octane Juliet, a sustained, luminous performance, to Tom Hagy’s hyperactive, mercurial Mercutio, to Tom Avni’s gut-stunned Romeo, to Sarit Vino Elad’s garrulous, protective, old-servant-taking-liberties Nurse, and indeed to the entire splendid cast.
Albert Einstein’s famous comment that we’ll fight WWIV with sticks and stones resonated strongly with Rubinstein. Maybe words will desert us too. Is this