Created by Sharon Paz
Be-Longing, a video-installation and performance piece by Sharon Paz, shows Israel's fractured history via four members of the same family. They live in different time-lines and in four discrete areas in an old house - the audience sits on all four sides and is invited to move around.
The family's privacy/territory is breached by an archeologist whose aim is research and whose dig lies precisely beneath the table where the family eats.
Loss in its deepest and broadest sense pervades the piece and its cumulative effect is near shattering. There is little speech, and the actors themselves seem hardly more than animate props.
Events unfold in images: bubblegum stuck to a wall, a basketball out of its context, a pair of old army boots, a jealously guarded old rug. There are lags, there is unnecessary repetition, but overall Be-Longing works.
Written and directed by Avital Drori
The older among us will remember Emeric Pressberger's WWII film A Matter of Life and Death in which a downed pilot's fate is decided in a heavenly courtroom. Avital Drori's Tranqilla, based on the author's near-death experience, brought the film to mind with its delightful blend of magic, humor, circus and realism.
In an Ecuadorean hospital a young woman is fighting for her life. Hideously menaced by a hugely effective Darth Vader-like Death, she is equally championed by a gentle-hearted 18th century Deliverance, comforted by a daffy, loving nurse, succored by caring-if-comical physicians and watched over from on high by a limber man-in-the-moon. The play's improbable combination works, thanks to the excellent cast comprising Yaron Goshen, Yulena Zimmerman, Ronit Hadad, Boaz Shaul and David Bilenka. Nili Turkel's costumes, puppetry by Alit Weber and Orit Leibowitz-Novitch, Assi Gottesman's lighting, as well as music and sound, contribute as much. And if strident slapstick sometimes overpowers Tranqilla's gentle tone, it is because it seems an imposed foreign body.
Written, directed by Lior Wertmann and Yonatan Levi
The story of an earthling who gets abducted to a mysterious space station by a nefarious alien intent on altering him, Mr . World is "a psycho-analytical, crypto-Lacanian farce." So says the program notes that also draws on the bible, Freud, mythology, politics and more to explain an hour or so of non-theater so splendidly awful it may well attain cult status. There is a plot, there are ideas, but because no dramatic engine drives these, the play lies inert. Lively, stylized costuming, set and directing might have rescued the performance, but it was as gelid as the play.
Yoshvim - a Mourning
Created by Rinat Moskuna
The actor/mourners in Yoshvim sit widely spaced around three low tables so that the audience sits among them. The tables are spread with the hodge-podge of food and drink that is provided or brought to a shiva. On the surrounding walls are blown up pictures of the "widow's" wedding. The "sister in law" invites the audience to eat and drink.
Later, for the umpteenth time, the widow will watch her wedding video, become hysterical, try to masturbate (why?), and the session will end with songs of loss and life after death.
Yoshvim is not a play, but a sort of performance art, the success of which is predicated on participation by the audience. It's a plucky, very chancy decision, but having made it, Rinat Moskuna should have relied on the very rituals and traditions of mourning that her piece seeks to examine. Grafting telenovela excesses onto the litanies of comfort tends to stifle audience responses that might otherwise have come naturally. Even more unfortunately, none of the young actors seem to have the professional skills they must possess in order to elicit such responses when they are lacking.
The 30th Century
Adapted and directed by Ari Remez
David Avidan (1934-95) is today recognized as one of the core poets of the contemporary Israeli canon. During his life he was less appreciated, and indeed died so abandoned that it was a day or two before his body was discovered.
Avidan's contention that "words know us better than we know ourselves or ever will know" is the backbone of the The 30th Century. There is no plot. The set is three tables in a three-sided white box, and actors Iyar Wolpe, Orit Zafran and Zeev Shimshoni wear black. It all adds up to a brilliant and scorching journey through the human condition in whatever century.
The recitation of poetry is almost as old as humanity. Remez's achievement is knowing which of Avidan's uncompromising words to choose. The actors give them vibrant life and Ran Bango's music completes the pleasure.
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