The Deep Blue Sea at Beit Lessin theater.
(photo credit: KFIR BOLOTIN)
Of course Shakespeare says it best: “love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds.” But then, how often are we lucky enough to experience, to meet the real thing? Hester Collyer (Limor Goldstein) thinks she has when she runs away with ex-test pilot Freddie Page (Nadav Nates), escaping from her chilly marriage to Bill (Liron Baranes), a very stiff-upper-lipped high court judge.
But it’s love’s trickster cousin that has wooed Freddie, nothing more really than a blazing, searing case of lust, and he’s already beginning to tire of her. Poor Hester is deluded too. She doesn’t love, or trust herself and the passion she thinks she has for Freddie is really gratitude. Which may explain why, when the play opens, Mrs. Elton (Naama Shapira), the landlady of the shabby lodgings where the couple lives, is screaming at her to open the door. Hester is huddled in a corner. She has tried to commit suicide, but in a neat irony, has forgotten to feed the meter with the necessary shilling. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, as the saying goes.
The rest of the play half bullies, half cajoles Hester, who is also an artist of no mean talent, into standing on her own two feet. “Give up hope,” Mr. Miller (Nimrod Bergman) tells her, “it’s your only chance.” Miller is a doctor who has been struck off the register – we never know why – and it’s mainly his acerbic pragmatism that brings her round. Perhaps she recognizes the deep well of humanity he strives to keep covered, and Bergman perfectly renders a man reluctant to reach out, but unable not to.
Indeed, Alon Ophir has done well by his cast, keeping them reined in. As Hester, Goldstein manages to evoke both our sympathy and our irritation, no small feat. Nates brings just the right amount of callousness to his portrayal of Freddie while Baranes, physically stiff and undemonstrative, manages to make us realize how much he still loves his wayward wife. But the gold star in this production goes to Naama Shapira’s generous, gossipy, physically and emotionally rounded Mrs. Elton. It’s the kind of performance that’s so good, so natural that it’s easy to overlook when awards time comes around. Victor Sebag, May Keshet and Ofer Ruthenberg stoutly hold up their ends in the more minor roles.
The costuming fits, except for Hester’s rather too low-necked day dress that somehow doesn’t strike the right note, and Ziv Volishin’s moody lighting – the light on waves breaking – adds to the fine, if a little monochromatic, production of a play that is very English, and perhaps just a little dated.
The Deep Blue Sea
By Terence Rattigan
Translated by Ido Riklin
Directed by Alon Ophir
Beit Lessin, February 28