Theater Review: Difficult People

Naor’s direction of Yosef Bar Yosef's “sort-of comedy” tiptoes too much, is too respectful and is almost glossy.

October 27, 2012 21:31
1 minute read.
'Difficult People' at the Haifa Theater

'Difficult People' 390. (photo credit: Courtesy)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The difficult people of Bar Yosef’s “sort-of comedy” – which is how he defined it – are Simon (Moshe Ivgi), his spinster sister Rachel (Helena Yeralova) off of whom he sponges, imported suitor-from-Jerusalem Lazer (Halifa Natour) and eccentric landlord Benny (Selim Dau).

These are grey, stunted people inhabiting a circumscribed world, reflected in Lily Ben-Nachshon’s overly shabby, mud-colored apartment and Ofra Confino’s understated costumes. Simon wears a brown wide-pinstripe suit, looking like the spiv he is. Rachel a wears a shapeless blue dress, Benny’s in a cardigan and jeans, while Lazer’s navy-blue suit is just a bit too big for him.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Life seems a bit too big for Lazer. Simon has wrenched him from his native Jerusalem to become Rachel’s husband, seemingly ignorant of Benny’s inarticulate yearning towards her. Poor babes in the woods. Lazer isn’t equipped for the real world, addicted as he is to truth.

Neither is painfully shy Rachel, accustomed as she is to being put upon. And just as, against all the odds, Rachel and Lazer muddle toward an understanding, Simon-the-selfish puts a spoke in their wheels.

Difficult People is about ambitions, ambiguities, about the frailty of assumptions, about, in the end, spiritual pettiness.

Bringing a groom from Jerusalem to the Diaspora, suggests director Naor, is messianic, an intimation of what could be to what is. But people are difficult, and Simon can’t maintain the generous impulse that brought Lazer to his sister.

As Rachel, Yeralova is especially fine, her body language more eloquent than her words. Natour consciously underplays Lazer which makes him powerful, intensifying the character’s fearfulness. Ivgi’s Simon, while effective, is too pat, lacks edge.

The actor may know the end, the character may not. Selim Dau cameos sensitively as Benny.

And yet, this Difficult People doesn’t quite get there despite its excellent actors. Naor’s direction tiptoes too much, is too respectful, is almost glossy. Iconic though it is, Difficult People sheds blood and we need to see some of it on the floor.

Difficult People
By Yosef Bar Yosef
Directed by Moshe Naor
Haifa Theater, October 22

Related Content

Sarah Silverman
August 26, 2014
Jewish women take home gold at 2014 Emmys