Theater Review: TheaterNetto

There was one brilliant, one challenging, one very well acted and one beyond bad show at the intriguing TheaterNetto 2010.

albert iluz elvis USE 311 (photo credit: Shalev Man)
albert iluz elvis USE 311
(photo credit: Shalev Man)
Monodrama Festival
April 1-3, Jaffa
There was one brilliant, one challenging, one very well acted and one beyond bad show at the intriguing TheaterNetto 2010, which ended April 3.
Eyal Schechter won the NIS 10,000 Nissim Azikri Prize for his performance in Murder on the Expressway, with honorable mention going to Osnat Zibil and Shai Zaviv for their work in, respectively, Exodus and Pursue Justice.
First, the winners: As heroic, gentle physician/psychotic serial killer David Newman in Roni Feldman’s Murder on the Expressway, Shechter tears the guts from you, bringing to terrifying life the harrowing resonance of sexual abuse by a pedophile – as young David is serially raped by his grandfather. He underplays: his body slightly stooped, his eyes flickering, his voice rarely rising above the conversational. He richly deserves his prize.
Complex, challenging, Pursue Justice by Josepha Even Shushan pits one Torah injunction against another and wraps both in an agonizing human dilemma. Will religious Zionist and desert-scout Avraham – Shai Zaviv in a deeply felt performance – kill the young Arab man who has murdered his son – a life for a life, as the Torah commands (Numbers 35:33) – or will he stay his own hand, as the Torah equally commands (Deuteronomy 16:20) and as the title of the play suggests? Pursue Justice needs some tightening but it surely encapsulates the unrelenting agony of the conflict between Jew and Arab and, even more lethal, the one between Jew and Jew.
Osnat Zibil, at 47, perfectly captures 10-year-old Nurit through the rhythms, intonations and movements of a child, thereby allowing us to see the woman and the child simultaneously. Exodus, by Hagit Bodenkin, Zibil’s sister, is based on truth. The children lost their father in the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the play approaches that trauma from the child’s memory of it.
NOW FOR the brilliant and the beyond bad: Nitzan Zitzer and his Knickknacks (‘Pitchifkes’ in Hebrew) are dazzling. From the first moment to the last Zitzer has the audience captivated as he clowns, sings, mimes, dances and generally generates performance fireworks in his fable about a heartless tycoon who rediscovers his heart. This is easily the best children’s theater piece I have seen in years.
Beyond bad is Abadai, conceived and consummately performed by Amikam Levi. This shamelessly self-indulgent, irretrievably trite, faux-in-yer-face comedy about a son who longs for a sign of love from his father is so awful that it deserves cult status.
It’s a polemic rather than a play, and not very good at that, butConfession of a Political Prostitute, written andperformed by Afif Shalyot, is very brave, given the cut-with-a-knifehostility of the audience. Confession is a campaignspeech by an Arab MK who wants to become prime minister “for everybody,and we all know what everybody feels about Arabs.”
Elvis, Corner of Trumpeldor, adequately performed byAlbert Iluz, is the eventually uninteresting story of an Elvis fan andperennial loser who makes a precarious living by getting himself runover, then collecting insurance. The story is true, but the play lacksa point.
When Amos Lavie plays the emotionally detached Mersault in directorYa’akov Muallem’s adaptation of Albert Camus’ TheOutsider, his performance is honed and marvelously apt. Whenhe plays the other characters, there is too much illustration. Theproduction is helped by Yochi Levin’s featureless and constricting set.Set in Algeria of the 1950s, the story is Mersault’s first personnarration of what precedes and follows his killing of an Arab on thebeach.