Theater Review 88.
(photo credit: )
Return to Haifa
By Boaz Gaon
Based on the novel by Ghassan Kanafani
Directed by Sinai Peter
Gaon's Return to Haifa makes all the right noises about the tragedy that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it is skittish about taking a stand - any stand.
The drama centers about a house in Haifa precipitately abandoned by its Arab owners in 1948. Not long after, Holocaust survivors Ephraim (Yossi Kantz) and Miriam (Rosina Kambos) arrive. They are assigned the house, along with the baby that Safiyya (Mira Awad) and Said (Norman Issa) were forced to abandon as they fled. Now it is 1967. Safiyya and Said have come from Ramallah to discover the fate of their house and to search for their son, Khaldoun (Erez Kahana), whom Miriam has raised as Dov, naming him for the son the Nazis killed.
The son represents this land, and Kanafani asks the question of to whom does the son owe allegiance - admirably realized in Frida Shoham's spare set of skewed ruin next to the solid home it has become.
Sinai's direction of this too politically correct drama is taut, sensitive and goes straight for the jugular. The actors, for their part, make the most of the unfortunately one-dimensional characters they have been given. As the practical, warm-hearted Miriam, Kambos's energy carries the play. To her, Issa's doggedly obstinate Said is an effective foil. Awad intelligently pursues the thankless task of portraying Safiyya's anguish, epitomized by the truly horrible dress she wears. Kahana's Dov ably veers between macho soldier and confused child. The much-too-underrated Kantz, in what is effectively a cameo, is gently believable as Ephraim.
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