(photo credit: Nathan Brusovany)
Tuesdays with Morrie
By Jeffrey Hatcher & Mitch Albom
Translated by Rivka Meshulach
Directed by Moshe Naor
Haifa & Cameri Theaters
When he sets aside his repertoire of crowd-pleasing schtick, Yossi
Graber is a great actor, and if there was ever a role that has no need
of schtick, it's that of Morrie Schwartz.
Schwartz was Mitch Albom's teacher at Brandeis. His Tuesdays with
Morrie happened 16 years after his graduation when, from a TV
interview, he learned that his beloved teacher had ALS, amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, an always fatal
neuro-degenerative condition. Albom went to see him and returned
thereafter every Tuesday until Morrie's death. The book Albom wrote
became and remains a massive bestseller. The play is based on the book,
whose central message is that for those who live fully, who love, who
give, death is just one part of that life.
For millions Morrie Schwartz's practical and gentle wisdom has been life-changing.
And there's the rub.
Naor and his actors revere too much. Instead of just showing us, and
letting us "get it," that reverence - for the man, for his courage and
for his wisdom - just gets in the way. Lily ben-Nahshon's bare-bones
set gets it, and surely Naor had much input on that set.
With respect, Yiftach Klein's Albom affords no real sense of the man.
Graber's Morrie, because of schtick, lacks substance, lacks breadth and
so comes out as cute. Probably, when the critics aren't there, his
Morrie is magnificent and schtickless.
But finally, Tuesdays with Morrie
is an anthem to all those who face ALS with the heroism that most do.
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