This Habimah production veers from near-soap opera to psychological drama.
By HELEN KAYELittle Eyolf
By Henrik Ibsen
Translated by Gad Kenar
Adapted and directed by Hanan Snir
The scene in which Rita Allmers (Yevgenia Dodina) and her husband Alfred (Yigal Sadeh) screech their frustration, their grief and above all, the scorch of their guilt at one another is one of the few genuine moments in a production that veers from near-soap opera to psychological drama.
This seeming indecision incorporates the visual. The drama takes place on Anat Sternschus's airy L-shaped space, that in the first act is the very contemporary designer veranda of the Allmers' tony seaside villa and in the second becomes an anonymous boardwalk beyond which is the ever-moving sea - complete with scudding clouds at tense moments. Yelena Kelrich's costumes for the women hint at late 19th century, while the men's skitter around from the 1930s to the present.
The story itself is timeless. Two very self-absorbed people, Rita and Alfred - he married for money, she was crazy about him - have a kid. A fall cripples the child for life. When he drowns in a freak accident, the parents' grief and guilt all but destroy them, too. To this, add Alfred's too-close relationship with ever-present half-sister Asta (Vered Feldman), torch-carrying road-builder Borghejm (David Kigler), the malignant - or is she? - Rat Woman (Naomi Polani), and let the currents and cross-currents work.
But they mostly don't.
As Alfred Allmers, Sadeh lacks substance, which gives Dodina too little to work with. Her passionately realized Rita flails against nothing. Kigler provides solidity and charm as Borghejm, while Feldman and Polani provide little but text. Finally, Ibsen provided a credible ending. Snir's is no improvement.
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