By S. Ansky, Hanna Krall
Directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski
The Warsaw Theater
Sherover Hall, Jerusalem
Every human being carries within him or herself the seeds of damnation or redemption, this Dybbuk seems to tell us; it is our souls' duty to strive toward the light, enlisting time and memory to aid us.
For us here, The Dybbuk is particularly resonant. It was the first Hebrew-language play by the first Hebrew-language theater in Moscow, and it was the first play Habimah presented in pre-state Israel, both starring the legendary Hanna Rovina as Leah in a production that became iconic.
Warlikowski has combined Ansky's classic tale of possession with Krall's story of Adam S., an American who seeks to keep, rather than expel, the spirit of his half-brother who was murdered in the Warsaw Ghetto at the age of six.
What results is a production without a gram of sentimentality, but immeasurably rich in compassion. It is emotionally powerful and physically enthralling, thanks equally to superb ensemble acting from a sensitive cast who move elegantly between character and narrator, with never a crack in either. In particular, Magdalena Cielecka is both earthy and ethereal as Leah, and staunch as Adam S.'s wife. Andrzej Chyra touches the heart as Hanan/Adam S., and as Rabbi Ezriel, our own Orna Porat fills the stage with light.
Dybbuk runs just over two hours with no intermission, and that whole time there wasn't even a rustle - that's how good it is.