Theater Review: Avram

Avram is about promise and reality; it is a tough play and a tough production.

By HELEN KAYE
March 5, 2012 21:04
2 minute read.
Gabi Amrani (left) and Dov Glikman

Gabi Amrani (left) and Dov Glikman 390. (photo credit: Gadi Dagon)

 
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Avram is about promise and reality.

“Get thee out of thy country,” says the Lord to Avram, before he becomes Abraham, the father of our people, “ … unto the land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation … and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

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“You need to leave this place,” this Avram (Gabi Amrani) tell his daughter Rachel (Lea Kamhzi). “…This is a place that warps life … that makes a mockery of hope. Turns dreams to dust.”

She does leave – but from despair, not hope.

In Frieda Klapholz-Avrahami’s echoing, alienating space of a set, director Oded Kotler pries us open to blighted people in a blighted landscape, that of Tel Aviv’s old Central Bus Station, up and running in 1940, built before the State of Israel, inaugurated amid fanfare and hope. Now it’s home to the homeless, the prostitutes, the foreign workers – all those whom society regards as refuse, when it regards them at all. The title of the play on the program cover is a graffito painted onto a battered municipal dumpster.

Avram’s damaged characters intersect rather encounter; each is intent on finding something, anything, that will ameliorate the actual and emotional squalor of their lives. David (Yoav Hait), an unloved and loveless municipal inspector, gets his own back by bullying Romanian foreign worker Yandor (Icho Avital), who assuages his bottomless loneliness by proposing marriage to Yael (Naomi Fromovich-Pinkas), a prostitute who refuses, or tries to refuse, certain acts so she can retain a sliver of self-respect.

Thief and fantasist Yair (Eli Menashe) can only express himself through violence, which Mangasha (Shay Fredo) has come to regard as a normal response to his skin color. David’s unloving, selfabsorbed, self-loathing mother (Rachel Dobson) is self-imprisoned. To homeless Yolim (Dov Glikman), a Russian immigrant, nothing matters anymore. He is his own irony. Glikman’s portrayal rivets utterly.

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You can say the same for all the actors, certainly also of Amrani and Kamhzi, who force us to look beneath the skin of their characters.

This is a tough play and a tough production. David Levin seems to be telling us not only that we have trashed the promise, but that it’s rubbished beyond rescue. Is it true? Is it just theater? If you think, Avram is a play you need to see.

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