Theater Review: 'The Caucasian Chalk Circle'

The virtuoso cast Brecht our hearts when we’re not busting a gut laughing.

August 3, 2010 21:29
2 minute read.
'Tanach Show' features the creation fo the world i

Theater.58. (photo credit: Nathan Brusovany)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

‘The Caucasian Chalk Circle’
By Bertolt Brecht
Translated by Rivka Meshulach
Directed by Udi Ben-Moshe
Music and arrangements
by Keren Peles
Cameri Theater, July 30

It would have been worth it just for the fugue in Act I – “She who hears a cry for help,” and then Azdak’s lusty “Why” in Act II, but this Chalk Circle is almost an embarrassment of riches. As in director Udi Ben-Moshe's equally substantial Good Woman of Setzuan last year, The Caucasian Chalk Circle is as Israeli as it is close to purist Brechtian; it has that extra soupcon of cheerful impudence.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

In case there’s any doubt about Ben-Moshe’s intent, the inimitable Azdak, relished to a fare-thee-well by Shlomo Bar-Abba, tells us in the very first lines, “There was once a land – [sotto voce] not here – inhabited by two peoples – [sotto voce] not here – who fought for possession – [sotto voce] not here…”

Thus unfolds the tale of Grusha (Neta Garty), the servant maid who raises as her own the governor’s child abandoned when his mother flees, the tale of the rascally Azdak made judge as a joke, and the judgment of the chalk circle, for, as Brecht writes, “what there is shall go to those that are good for it … and the land to the waterers that it bring forth fruit.”

Let’s get this niggle out of the way. Every once in a while Keren Peles’s musical numbers unnecessarily impede the flow of the narrative. One or two could and should have been edited out, splendid though they are.

That said, this Chalk Circle is a banquet for the eyes, the ears and – oh, most certainly – the mind. Garty as Grusha and Udi Rothschild as her soldier lover, Simon, utterly engage. Their playfulness, their innocence, their intrinsic goodness, their suffering and their joys provide the production’s needed emotional intensity, while acting as anchor and counterpoint to the cruelty and the clowning.

Also outstanding are Lior Zohar, Shlomi Avraham and Ruby Moskovitz in their various clown roles, each subtly different from the other. They and the rest of the virtuoso cast Brecht our hearts when we’re not busting a gut laughing.

Related Content

Sarah Silverman
August 26, 2014
Jewish women take home gold at 2014 Emmys