Was It a Dream
By Edna Mazya
Directed by Omri Nitzan
This time, superlatives are irrelevant. Playwright, director, play, designers, onstage singers and actors in Was It a Dream (in Hebrew: Hiyah Oh Lo Hiyah) are in such perfect balance that the whole lifts us ecstatically to that plane of heightened reality wherein theater ideally has its being.
Was It a Dream follows the tumultuous passion that ignited between Hannah Rovina (Helena Yarlova), the undisputed queen of Hebrew theater, and rebel poet Alexander Penn (Yehezkel Lazarov). Their romance is set against the vicious antagonism between the poets Haim Nahman Bialik (Yossi Graber) and Avraham Shlonsky (Amir Kriaf); Bialik was the already-iconic representative of a renascent Hebrew literature and Shlonsky, the modernist upstart.
Reality and art battle for ascendance and though the outcome is fore-ordained, Mazya and Nitzan create a visual, verbal and emotional dreamscape within which events burgeon like images in time-lapse photography, or in memory.
The set and 1930s costumes by Orna Smorgonsky and Dror Herenson abet the action. Various screens and seven or so cloth-covered square tables form the set, a change of cloth or position transforming them into various locales from a cafÃ© to a dressing-room to a bed to a hospital waiting room, enabling seamless and visually arresting transitions, themselves accented by the choice of a song.
Yarlova, Graber, Kriaf and Lazarov in particular, each illuminate the stage, as do Rivka Gur, Eli Gorenstein and Einat Aronstein among the rest of an inspired and inspiring ensemble.