End of a Joke
By Noam Gil
Directed by Noa Knoller
Habimah production at Tzavta 3
Apt delivery and great timing are the essence of good comedic acting. Both were in short supply for End of a Joke which is an audaciously improbable drawing-room comedy, its formulas subverted.
Five friends are about to enjoy dessert in the living room after a good dinner. The two couples are in excellent humor. Jokes fly, gossip is bandied, especially at the expense of #5, Zvi, effectively played by Ma'ayan Blum. He is sullen, an uncommunicative lump amid all the good companionship. Suddenly, still without saying a word, he gets up from the sofa, strides toward the open window of the third floor apartment and jumps. There's a lot of running about and a lot of talk, but nobody actually copes, and when a couple of paramedics finally arrive, the situation does not improve.
The play says very clearly that as a society and as individuals we have lost the ability to pay attention and are therefore incapable of appropriate response. Gil doesn't preach. He gets the ideas across through a witty juxtaposition of inanities and action. Set and costume designers Mia Peleg and Ehud Guterman buttress these with a tasteful and color coordinated set and a wardrobe seemingly reached for without much thought.
The young actors tried to give the lines their due, but have yet to learn that in comedy less is more. The exceptions were Roi Reshef Maliah and Halil Yitzhaki as the Russian medics. Their arrival injected the performance with its first real humor.