theater Review: TIKUN

The play lacks a center, goes all over the place in an attempt to make all its voices heard, which only makes it the more confusing.

September 24, 2019 20:37
2 minute read.
theater Review: TIKUN

Dan Shapira and Rami Baruch in 'Tikun' . (photo credit: REDY RUBINSHTAIN)


By Amnon Levy and Rami Danon
Directed by Rami Danon
Cameri Theater
September 19

‘Tikun”’ is one of those slippery Hebrew words that have a literal, figurative and emotive meaning – as in “repair,” “rehabilitation” and “reform” or “certain prayers,” all of which come into play in this production, an adaptation by the authors of their earlier Tikun Hatzot.
That one, like the current production, was all about relationships, belonging and identity. To understand the dynamics, it’s necessary to know that Ashkenazi Jews tend to look down on, if not hold in contempt, their Sephardi and Mizrachi brethren as lesser beings when it comes to the Torah world of learning. In an attempt (mostly fruitless) to mitigate this, young ultra-orthodox Sephardi Jews are sent to Lithuanian yeshivot (religious institutions of higher Jewish learning) to absorb Lithuanian learning – as well as their values and outlook.

Berke (Dan Shapira) is one such young man and is the pride of his Rabbi’s heart until he learns that his beloved Rabbi Shtat (Rami Baruch) intends to send only Mizrachi students to the army. Moreover, Shtat’s casually contemptuous denigration of Berke’s Sephardi Hacham (Wise Man) Moshe (Shimon Mimran) has caused the latter formally to curse him up hill and down dale.
Now Berke, named Dib by his Moroccan-born father Pinchas (Avraham Selektar), finds himself morally adrift and unsure of who he really is or where his allegiance lies.

One supposes that the bulk of Tikun attempts to answer that question. Perhaps it tries to but never quite gets there. The play lacks a center, goes all over the place in an attempt to make all its voices heard, which only makes it the more confusing.

Which is perhaps why none of the characters seem real, despite the actors’ best efforts to make them so. Shapira brings earnestness and charm to his portrayal of Berke/Dib. Rami Baruch’s nonagenarian Shtat offers a moiety of roguishness under his unbending exterior while Mimran as his Sephardi counterpart properly blusters and puffs. Selektar convinces as the simple Pinchas, a man wrenched far beyond where he thought he was going. Eran Mor obediently plays Finger, a young man first at odds with and then allied to Berke, but doesn’t give us a real hint of who or why he is.

Then there’s Shlomi Avraham, who deftly plays Kopp, but again, why is this character here? Whom or what does he represent? Is it the uncritical obedience the ultra-Orthodox rabbis require from their flocks? The kind of obedience that causes Berke so to flounder when he must think for himself?

The action takes place on Eran Atzmon’s bleak gray set that looks (perhaps deliberately?) more like a warehouse than a school with other venues (such as Pinchas’ home) brought on and off by the actors.

But when the play ends, what is it we’ve been watching? Does this Tikun reflect us, our society, our mores? If it does, it needs to say so.

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