A SCENE from ‘The Advocate.’.
(photo credit: GERARD ALON)
Written & directed by Danielle Cohen Levy
Khan Theater, 3/6/18
It is to the actors’ credit that this two-dimensional mass of important pronouncements regarding the nature of man in one or another conflict situation works as well as it does.
Inspired by “The New Advocate” by Franz Kafka, this Advocate takes place at the Split Knight Inn, a cheerless space that looks like (and is), the inside of a container, courtesy of set designer Shani Tur. The dour landlady (Carmit Mesilati-Kaplan), her leg in an iron brace, is not best pleased when a stranger arrives, introducing himself as Dr.
Bucephalus (David Ben-Zeev), a lawyer and – incidentally – the former war-horse of Alexander the Great.
Seeing the horse rather than the man, the landlady needs a lot of persuasion to give him a room rather than a stall. And so it goes. The inn’s other residents respond to him variously, some seeing the man, some the horse, like Beatrice (Natalie Eliezerov) who’s excited by the raw and the elemental she thinks she senses, or disillusioned historian Pelles Green (Shimon Mimran) for whom Bucephalus is something to talk at. Then there’s Captain Even Shor (Yossi Eini) who’s sweet on Beatrice and so, man or horse, Bucephalus is a threat.
Then a new phase of the unending war breaks out and everything changes again. Law. Justice. The difference between the two. The necessity of both or neither for human existence – none of this seems to matter because the heart of the conflict will always be the unending struggle between the savage and the civilized that Bucephalus represents.
Ben-Zeev is a noble, yet not always sure of himself Bucephalus. Mimran’s Pelles Green is nicely fuzzy, a necessary foil to Mesilati-Kaplan’s prickly, bitter landlady. Eliezerov’s Beatrice is restrainedly sensual and Eini makes a person of the thinly delineated Even Shor. The always reliable Arie Tcherner cameos robustly as a judge who appears “out of the blue” and for no discernible reason.
Ula Shevtsov’s costuming is suitably drab. The music by Uri Frost and lighting by Roni Cohen blend in but that’s all.
Advocate goes around and around the mulberry bush to tell us of, rather than show us, the seemingly eternal nature of the savage/civilized conflict.