Toy Friend Clipa Theater for the Performing Arts 36 Rehov Harekevet, Tel Aviv Written and directed by Noa Gur As they find ways to cope with the war and their kids' long school vacation, many adults are getting in touch with the child within. With shows like Toy Friend, it's a pleasure. The basic premise of Toy Friend is not new - toys come to life when no one is around, just like in Hans Christian Andersen's The Steadfast Tin Soldier and Pixar's more recent Toy Story. This performance, at Tel Aviv's Clipa Theater for the Performing Arts, even includes music from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, another tale of inanimate objects come to life. But the play takes a fresh and refreshing approach that keeps the adults in the audience engaged. This is not necessarily just a show for the three- to seven-year-olds at whom it is ostensibly aimed. For a little more than the price of a movie ticket (NIS 50), you can't beat good theater, which in this case features animated actors playing the toys and not animated cartoon characters starring as people. I think the adult section of the audience was at times even more impressed than the kids with the many physical stunts performed on stage, although the five-year-old I brought along was rapt for the 50-minute performance and afterwards pronounced it "amazing." The story, which will be staged again Saturday night and three additional times next week, follows what happens when the eclectic (and athletic) group of toys in Daniel's room discover he is going on holiday and has room in his suitcase for just one of them. To determine which toy will go along, they hold a competition so that each can demonstrate his or her special talent: there's the trumpet-playing Pierrot; Raz, the all-knowing rubber duck; a squeaky swinging panda bear; Rina Ballerina, a delicate dancing doll; and Hezi Trapezi, the trapeze artist, who will allow nothing to break him. Ultimately, of course, the play offers its young audience a moral, in this case one concerning true friendship. Watching the show, one got the impression that the performers themselves - Dirk Kunash, Oded Zadok, Takanori Kawaharda, Lee Meir and Michal Herman - also know the value of cooperation and trust. Clipa, founded in 1995 by Dmitry Tyulpanov and Idit Herman, who's also this show's artistic consultant, specializes in visual and performing arts combining elements of dance, pantomime, plastic arts and circus acrobatics. Based in a converted industrial building, it is an unexpected pearl in the heart of the less than salubrious area near Tel Aviv's old central bus station. Based on this kids' show, my interest was piqued in some of Clipa's darker performances for adults. (The theater is simultaneously running Orpheus, without words, among others.) For a magical hour in Tel Aviv, this particular performance was so alive that it was far more difficult to believe that Daniel was packing for a vacation "up North" than that toys might get up to all sorts of tricks when their owners aren't looking. It was a perfect bit of escapism for both younger children and their parents.