Theater Review: 'The Dispute'

In a slap at the reality of TV reality shows, director Segahl Avin has made Marivaux's premise the basis of a "reality" show.

Theater Review 88 (photo credit: )
Theater Review 88
(photo credit: )
The Dispute By Pierre de Marivaux Translated by Dori Parnes Adapted and directed by Segahl Avin Habimah National Theater March 25 The first time they meet, Églé (Rina Matatov) and Adine (Tali Rubin) get downright catty. When Azor (Lavi Zitner) and Mesrin (Oded Yehezkel) get together (with equal panache) they sniff at each other, bond, bounce up and down, and generally behave like guys. All four have been let loose in set designer Anat Sternschus' austerely elegant glade for the first time after 20 years of complete isolation from each other and from the world. The one who brings them together is Carise (the admirable Yael Toker) and the only other human any of them has seen. It's all been an elaborate experiment in which playwright Pierre de Marivaux (tongue firmly in cheek) asks who will be the first to betray the other in love? In a slap at the spurious and meretricious reality of TV reality shows, director Segahl Avin has made Marivaux's premise the basis of a "reality" show, complete with plasma screens recording all, including the black clad technicians, an omniscient Host (Kobi Livne), and the audience as spectators the four young "contestants" cannot see. As the Host and Carise (who's in on the ploy), slickly and slyly manipulate their puppets, they gambol like puppies, delighted with themselves, their beauty, and the adoration they provoke and bestow. Equally they spat, they flare, they seethe, and they betray, singly and en masse. It works very well, but it doesn't engage. Perhaps it isn't meant to. The irony is that the very real human passions are here made inaccessible to both actors and the audience by the reality genre. And perhaps that is Avin's message, that we are condemned to surfaces. But why are they in underwear? Keep the actors either naked or clothed, please. Underwear is simply underimaginative.