(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
‘Cancer as a subject for laughter, for guffaws even? For heaven’s sake! Most people can’t even say the word out loud. It’s called ‘the big C,’ ‘it,’ a ‘serious disease,’ its very thought inspires dread.”
This was the intro to Anat Gov’s transcendent Happy End that Beit Lessin produced shortly before her death in 2012 from that same disease, and it can equally serve for her Love of Death, her first play, and written in 1991 following her parents’ death from cancer.
Like its bookend Happy End, Love of Death is gloriously irreverent, beautifully compassionate and above all, marvelously funny about this equal opportunity, classless and non-racist condition.
And, again like Happy End, Love of Death is about life, about living, about seizing the moment whenever you can because anyway death comes to us all, and if you drop the ball, just pick it up and start again. Nothing to be afraid of, though we all are.
When Mira (Lilian Barreto) meets Death (Yoram Toledano) she’s throwing out the trash (another metaphor), would like to throw herself out with it but Death says “not yet.”
How can you die if you’ve never learned to live? Mira will learn from Shlomi (Liron Baranes), Youssuf (Ya’akov Daniel) and Rachel (Sandra Schonwald), all terminal cancer patients at the hospice at 22 Netzach Israel Street, lovingly cared for by hospice nurse Limor (Noa Biron). Their determination to teach Mira what’s what allows their own emotions to decompress, allows them to look beyond their inevitable end and reconnect with their own lives.
Gilad Kimchi’s meticulous direction allows the actors scope to create real people.
Barreto’s Mira incrementally moves from petulant self-pity to true awareness; there’s wry self-knowledge to Daniel’s sorrowing Youssuf; Schonwald’s Rachel grasps at identity and in Biron’s Limor “the quality of mercy is not strained....”
We fear death, and we shouldn’t. Death, as Anat Gov demonstrates, is just the door out of life, and if you’ve lived its every day, it’s a door that quietly closes.