Theater Review: Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesdays with Morrie Haifa & Cameri Theaters

Tuesdays with Morrie
By Jeffrey Hatcher & Mitch Albom
Translated by Rivka Meshulach
Directed by Moshe Naor
Haifa & Cameri Theaters
February 17

When he sets aside his repertoire of crowd-pleasing schtick, YossiGraber is a great actor, and if there was ever a role that has no needof schtick, it's that of Morrie Schwartz.
Schwartz was Mitch Albom's teacher at Brandeis. His Tuesdays withMorrie happened 16 years after his graduation when, from a TVinterview, he learned that his beloved teacher had ALS, amyotrophiclateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, an always fatalneuro-degenerative condition. Albom went to see him and returnedthereafter every Tuesday until Morrie's death. The book Albom wrotebecame and remains a massive bestseller. The play is based on the book,whose central message is that for those who live fully, who love, whogive, death is just one part of that life.
For millions Morrie Schwartz's practical and gentle wisdom has been life-changing.
And there's the rub.
Naor and his actors revere too much. Instead of just showing us, andletting us "get it," that reverence - for the man, for his courage andfor his wisdom - just gets in the way. Lily ben-Nahshon's bare-bonesset gets it, and surely Naor had much input on that set.
With respect, Yiftach Klein's Albom affords no real sense of the man.Graber's Morrie, because of schtick, lacks substance, lacks breadth andso comes out as cute. Probably, when the critics aren't there, hisMorrie is magnificent and schtickless.
But finally, Tuesdays with Morrie is an anthem to all those who face ALS with the heroism that most do.