Theater Review: Romeo and Mum

The world of reality TV that Romeo mocks is kitschy, lowbrow and makes instant somebodies out of nobodies.

June 25, 2018 21:24
2 minute read.
Theater Review: Romeo and Mum

A scene from 'Romeo and Mum' at the Cameri theater. (photo credit: COURTESY CAMERI)

Mully (David Shaul) loves his mum, aka Suzie Malca (Sara von Schwartze), and she loves him, which doesn’t mean that he doesn’t drive her up the wall. He’s not realizing his potential, she thinks, but actually it’s just that he can’t seem to get his head together.

Then local-boy-made-good Sassi ben-Atar (Roy Asaf) comes to town, a development town misnamed Tikvot (Hopes). He’s going to direct Shakespeare’s immortal love story Romeo and Juliet and tadaaah! Lights, camera, action! A Tikvot boy will be chosen to play Romeo. Gasp! It’s bound to be Mully, and the auditions scene straight out of a Take-Your-Pick reality TV show is one of the funniest in the play, with Osnat Ben-Yehuda as the bedizened, bejeweled, bejetted and utterly brazen Daria completely stealing the scene – she’s equally good as neighbor Fanny).

Mully does a great audition, but the part goes to another. Then Mum tells her family that the cancer she thought she’d licked is back, so Mully lies and says he’s got the part.

From there the family, Mully and Mully’s friends, indeed the whole town rally round, anything to give Suzie that extra bit of hope.
Romeo and Mum is billed as a comedy, and it’s funny a lot. It’s also truly stark once or twice, touching a lot and even kitschy here and there, but that’s all right because the world of reality TV that Romeo mocks is kitschy, lowbrow and makes instant somebodies out of nobodies.

Eran Atzmon’s set features a rather improbable raised row of shuttered balconies – for Yoav Cohen’s unremarkable video footage – and the stage area from which the rest of the venues, not forgetting Suzie’s home, nimbly roll on and off, ephemera that are here one moment, gone the next, like those oft quoted “15 minutes of fame.”

Orna Smorgonsky’s costumes neatly complement the characters, especially where Nati (Magen Shabo) is concerned.

Von Schwartze’s Suzie is as warming, as heartening as comfort food. Von Schwartze imbues her with the kind of bedrock decency that few have. Even when her lover, Nisso (Nisso Kavia), abandons her because of the cancer, she does not judge him. “I’m your Rosaline,” she tells him, waving the Shakespeare script, “go, be happy.” It’s an understated performance, fragile as dew, strong as tungsten.

As Mully, David Shaul is not far behind. We see the realization that he may very well lose the mother he adores creep up on him, giving him a desperation and a courage he probably never realized he had. In other words, we watch him grow up.

As Suzie’s scatty sister, Nati, Shabo is perfect. She’s loud, a bit vulgar, credulous and fiercely loyal, as the mother-ridden Nisso, played by Kavia with the correct amount of hesitancy, is not. 11-year-old Lia Amram-Rokah makes a saucy, knowing Tehila, Mully’s little sister. The rest of the cast enthusiastically does its bit, and very well, too.

Romeo and Mum is good, but stutters here and there, perhaps because the authors (as the program indicates) are a tad too close to the subject. Still, a fun evening out.

By Gur Koren and Gilad Kimchi
Directed by Gilad Kimchi
The Cameri Theater, June 21

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