(photo credit: Lauren Izso)
Communal activity begins and ends Between Friends, but of true community there is none. The drama takes place in the late 1950s during the eight days of Hanukka at the fictional kibbutz of Ikhat, where jealousies, petty rivalries, backbiting, who belongs and who doesn’t, and other unlovely attributes harry the members like an ongoing telenovela.
Henya (Ora Meirson) is demanding that the kibbutz allow her son Yotam (Nitzan Rothschild) to study in Italy.
Stormy ideologue David (Amir Kriaf) is conducting a clandestine affair with Nina Sirota (Yael Eytan), a woman many years his junior, an affair everybody knows about but her father Nahum Asherov (Ofer Zohar), David’s best buddy.
Then there’s soft-hearted Roni Sheindlin (Muli Shulman), who’s worried about his son Yuval (Ella Columbus) who’s not doing well in the children’s house, while his doctrinaire mother Leah (Shiri Golan) is noisily against the idea that the children should sleep at home – an idea that goes against the ideals of the collective, but that is espoused by Edna Asherov (Yael Eytan). She’s in love with harassed kibbutz secretary Yoav Karni (Nimrod Bergman) but, even though he responds to her, he’s desperately trying to get his wife Dana to return to the kibbutz.
And wandering obliviously in and out amid the turmoil these relationships and conflicts engender is walking parable Zvi (Yuval Karmi). His ear is welded to his transistor radio, from which he reports on disasters world-wide, never mind what’s happening under his nose.
In a program note Amoz Oz says that the kibbutz was “one of the 20th century’s great revolutions,” an idea that sought “not only to change the regime but to alter human nature... but human nature doesn’t change,” and the great experiment of total equality was almost foreordained in part to fail.
Judith Aharon’s unostentatious and stylized kibbutz dining room set that revolves to become the various members’ rooms fits right in, as (mostly) do Svetlana Breger’s ‘50s-style costumes.
As for the acting, it’s a joy. This Between Friends is seamless ensemble work. Bravo to all.