Theater Review: 'The American Princess'

At its most profound this blackest of comedies mourns the death of the soul in modern man.

Theater Review 88 (photo credit: )
Theater Review 88
(photo credit: )
The American Princess By Nissim Aloni Directed by Udi Ben-Moshe Khan Theater June 3 Director Udi Ben-Moshe is a minimalist who cajoles the most from the leanest of sets and evokes the best from already-good actors. Arye Tcherner and Udi Rothschild play father and son, aka King Felix and Crown Prince Freddy, in this fun-house-mirror fable by the iconic author/poet/playwright Aloni (1926-1998). At its most obvious, The American Princess is a soap opera plot. Envious, frustrated son is impatient to supplant dad in life and in love, but dad won't fade away, so son murders him. Maybe. At its most profound - and profound is Aloni's true territory - this blackest of comedies, built on Greek myth and tragedy, mourns the death of the soul in modern man. We have, Aloni suggests, sold our immortal birthright for a mess of spurious pottage. The king is a deposed South American monarch in exile barely eking out a living as a French teacher. From a mysterious "American princess," he receives a monthly stipend and a tape recorder on which he records the events of his life to send her. One day, she sends a famous "film director" to make a movie of his life; illusion piles on illusion, and events roll to their inexorable end. It's Rothschild as Prince Freddy who must hold the play together, and he does just that with a sizzling mix of charm, guile and ruthlessness. Arye Tcherner mesmerizes as the fatuous old monarch and his slick alter ego, the "actor." Svetlana Breger's set of walls, a chessboard floor and a chair, Keren Peles's almost parody of atmospheric music, and Roni Cohen's subtle lighting all contribute - a lot.