Theater Review: 'Anxiety Struck'

Also: Yinon Tzafrir's 'Stones.'

avanim play 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
avanim play 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Anxiety StruckBy B. Michael and Ephraim SidonEdited and directed by Moti KirschenbaumHabima, March 28
Anxiety Struck, or “Nifga’ay Harada” in Hebrew, takes on most of what plagues our society and mercilessly sends it up in a steady stream of songs and sketches that has the audience in fits of nearly continuous laughter.
Satire, says the dictionary, ridicules vice or folly “for the ostensible purpose of exposing or discouraging [them],” and this show is satire at its most pungent and pointed. Whether it’s market forces, the bomb in Iran, media manipulation, persecution of the Arabs, religiosity or settler violence to order, the show revels in originality, imagination and a wonderful hutzpa.
Behind it all is a deep concern that we here have gone off the deep end, that without danger or the threat of it, whether real or spurious, we cannot function. Even worse, we have become passive, oblivious and uncaring.
Set designer Maya Hanoch has provided tongue-in-cheek medication: a backdrop of huge packages of pills with three more giant bottles on stage. Keren Peles’s bouncy music is neatly played by Amir Brand and actors Yael Levental, Dov Navon, Alon Neuman, Talli Oren and Tomer Sharon provide dazzling virtuoso turns as they present singly, in pairs, trios and as a team, the 19 numbers that make up the show. Wonderful stuff.
StonesCreated and staged by Yinon TzafrirCo-directed by Daniel TzafraniSimta, March 25
What an irony that the very stones Hitler intended for his Victory Archnow form the basis of Natan Rappoport’s statue in Poland and Yad Vashemcommemorating the Warsaw Ghetto fighters.
Orto-Da’s Stones was born of this provenance. Thefive actors, Avi Gibson Bar-El, Hezi Cohen, Yaniv Mouyal, Hila Spector,Moti Sabag and Yinon Tzafrir, skillfully made up to resemble statues,present the history of the Holocaust and the birth of the State ofIsrael in a moving, often very beautiful, sometimes gently witty seriesof tableaux backed by a soundtrack that evokes the various stagedepisodes. That’s the first half and it’s wonderful.
The second part – although the show runs without a break – seems to bea commentary on the first half, in that we have betrayed what it costus so much to achieve. It doesn’t really work, not because it’s notexecuted as well, but because it lacks the clarity and the economy thatso illumines the first half. That said, Stones isstill exciting and challenging theater.