Theater Review: Anua Keshikor

Written and directed by Guy Biran Hazira Theater, January 15.

Anua Keshikor 370 (photo credit: Nadav Harel)
Anua Keshikor 370
(photo credit: Nadav Harel)
Anua Keshikor (“I’ll wander as though drunk”) is a theater piece themed on the songs and poetry of 16th century Safed mystic Rabbi Israel Najara.
His message was that the true link between man and the Deity is achieved through the mutual passion of man and woman.
His work extols that belief.
Anua is saying that while poetry can attain that aspired-to connection, actual human beings cannot; they cannot truly communicate with each other, and as Martin Buber postulated in Between Man and Man, “if I cannot reach my fellow creature, how can I hope to reach God.”
Actors Danny Shtag and Eyar Wolpe illustrate the premise through a series of arid encounters. They rarely touch, are usually physically apart. While a biblically-costumed three-woman choir sings Najara’s exquisite, sensual poems, He and She bandy the prosaic minutiae of daily life via Biran’s minimalist, yet emotionally voluble script. Hila Spector’s complementary videos heighten the disconnect.
A spoon churning into a whirlpool liquid in a glass is particularly powerful.
The videos are screened mostly onto a thick and mobile Wall that serves as an actual and metaphorical barrier, its metaphorical function being, one surmises, the Separation Wall on the West Bank.
The dialogue too is a metaphor: that we chatter trivia, avoiding the political elephant in the living room.
Had execution paralleled concept, Anua would have been explosive. Unhappily, the piece is tedious, because its creators ignored some theatrical basics, not least pace and rhythm.
Most of the work’s 50 or so minutes moves at the same glacial pace. Israel Breit’s haunting music is embalmed in slow, as are the text and the performers’ movements. Diction also matters. In a long, impassioned and obviously important poem to do with Damascus and water, Shtag is virtually unintelligible.
Anua Keshikor is worth reworking. Put self aside and go to it.