Theater Review

Long after the actors have taken their bows, Games in the Backyard nags and nudges at the mind.

rape victim 88 (photo credit:)
rape victim 88
(photo credit: )
By Edna Mazya Direction and video by Noam Shmuel Cameri Theater January 15 Long after the actors have taken their bows, Games in the Backyard nags and nudges at the mind and the emotions, precisely as it is meant to do. An enlisted play whose subject is rape, it both serves and transcends the genre. Dvori, a socially and sexually confused teen loner, is the victim. The rapists are Shmulik, Sela, Assaf and Gidi, typical teenage boys - although Assaf is fractionally older. As Edna Mazya's elegantly colloquial script quickly clarifies, Dvori is not a saint, nor are the boys monsters. They meet in a playground. They flirt, they play, they spat. She flaunts, the boys preen and strut. From their point of view, she's "asking for it." And they oblige. The rape itself, however, is not the point. At issue is the nature of the relationship between male and female wherein the latter is seen essentially as prey or product, an attitude that our society mainly still sanctions. Mazya makes this crystal clear through barbed interaction between the attorneys during the trial that parallels events in the park. The playground becomes a courtroom, the victim becomes the prosecutor and the boys, the defense lawyers. Society joins the rapists in the dock. Hani Furstenberg (Dvori), Lior Rochman, Erez Cahana, Yiftach Ofir and Moran Kal (Shmulik, Sela, Assaf, Gidi) are all close enough to their teen years to remember the desperate requirements of "cool," and they sustain their characters through effective nuances of speech and body language, some probably coaxed from them by director Noam Shmuel, who's about their age. As the lawyers, however, they tend to TV-type glibness. Avital Lahat's functional playground set doubles comfortably as the courtroom. The video provides background, but not much more. Games in the Backyard at the Cameri is a revival. The original Haifa Theater production ran for eight years and was seen by youth all over the country. It is based on the real-life gang rape of a 14 year old at Kibbutz Shomrat in 1988. At the 1992 trial, the six defendants were acquitted due to "reasonable doubt." The verdict was appealed, overturned in part, and four of the defendants were sent to prison.