Blackbird by David Harrower
Translated by Rivka Meshulach
The Cameri Theater, Tel Aviv
"Blackbird" by David Harrower, one of Scotland's most acclaimed dramatists, was first a hit at the Edinburgh Festival 2005 before moving to London's West End.
It is a compassionate study of a Lolilta-like case of pedophilia in which accepted moral judgements of the offence are challenged. Ray, a 56 year old factory manager, is suddenly confronted by Una, an attractive female in her twenties, 15 years after they had an affair for which he served six years in jail, convicted of child abuse. Ray has lived down the past, changed his identity, and now, taunted by Una, protests that he was no monster or pedophile. Their love was mutual and though illicit, genuine. But Una, still sexually and mentally obsessed by her early experience, has traced Ray through a news photo and intends to reclaim him.
Ido Riklin's choreographic direction lends intensity to the action. He paces the harrowing sequence of guilt, grief and anger with a passionate but controlled crescendo, handling the taboo subject with delicacy. But when it comes to the ending one has to find fault with his interpretation. In the play, as originally produced, the tragic ending takes place in a grim car park where the couple battle it out to the bitter end. Riklin's substitution of the intervention of Ray's child, though excellently acted by a junior performer,is mawkish and quite unsatisfactory.
What does distinguish his production is the poignant performance of Ola Schur as the infuriated, sexually frustrated, soulfully damaged but seductive Una. Volatile yet never melodramatic, the monologue in which she recounts her sufferings, is charged with the kind of rare talent that promises great things for her future. With that, she almost makes the play her own. Oded Teomi, on the other hand, though physically well cast as her partner, Ray, is overcharged from the word go.
As the penitent, if shamed, contrite, and ready to crumple pedophile, Teomi rarely reduces his high-pitched, nerve-wracked presentation. He is thereby robs the role of the sympathy it is meant to engender.