Festival Review: TheaterNetto 2012

Directed by Ilan Toren, Abu-Warda plays Red Peter in Kafka’s Monkey, Colin Teevan's adaptation of a Franz Kafka short story.

The play Winter Clothes Daddy (photo credit: Gerhar Alon)
The play Winter Clothes Daddy
(photo credit: Gerhar Alon)
The very accomplished Yussuf Abu-Warda is never blatant about his monkey origins as he reports to us, “the honorable members of the Academy” on his transformation from ape to man. Those origins are subtly sketched in a gesture, an itch, a movement, a look. Directed by Ilan Toren, Abu-Warda plays Red Peter in Kafka’s Monkey, Colin Teevan's adaptation of Franz Kafka’s short story Report to the Academy here translated by Shimon Buzaglo.
In it Peter relates the circumstances of his capture, of his brutal confinement in the ship’s hold, of his determination to get out, simply to get out of there, and “imitating humans was just a way out.” He becomes a musical entertainer, achieves success but at heart, holds his ‘humanity’ of little worth because below that shiny civilized outside, he (and Kafka), recognize its inhumanity, its essential loneliness.
As Red Peter Abu-Warda maintains dignity, the more touching because it is so fragile. He doesn’t hector. He persuades, draws us into his uneasy world.
This is a noteworthy performance.
With its soap-opera script, by-the-numbers characterizations and poor costuming, (a hospital gown with matching under-drawers), Once More It’s May is almost embarrassing to watch. What saves it somewhat is actress Anat Zamsteigman’s commitment to the play written and directed by Liat Fishman Lenny.
In it Zamsteigman passionately plays Julie, a self-absorbed, immature woman of 37 who’s talking to the fetus she’s determined to abort because “there’s nothing for you here.
I’ve nothing to give.”
Julie has had a traumatic past that includes losing both her father and then her beloved elder brother, both in May. She feels alienated, unattached.
Reliving both the tragic and happier moments, she arrives at a wholly predictable decision.
Chantal Cohen winningly creates and maintains the character of a bereaved and adrift woman who eventually reconnects to herself and to life in Sara Shilo’s No Dwarves Will Come directed by Revital Eitan. The trouble lies with the material. Six years back Simona suddenly lost her beloved husband Masoud three days after the barmitzva of her eldest son. Tonight, during a katyusha raid on her development town, she is alone on a football field, reliving events from her past, tracing the path of a beautiful, cosseted wife to bitter, unloving and unloved widow, to the realization that she still has life and a future. The language is vivid and the material is rich in episodes, but the transitions from one to another are abrupt, obliging the actress to anticipate so that the show can achieve some kind of flow.
Then there’s Winter Clothes Daddy.
Oh joy! First there’s Moshe Ferster’s fizzy, darting and intelligent script about the reactions of a little girl to her parents’ divorce. Then there’s Hadass Gilboa’s perceptive, lighttouched direction of that script, and finally there’s actress Hila Metzker Halevi’s spontaneous, uncluttered, truly ingenuous interpretation.
Thankfully Metzker Halevi doesn’t act like a little girl in order to be one.
She’s her adult self, showing a child’s responses to a situation she doesn’t really understand. It’s a delight to watch, painful moments and all. Ohad Hatucha’s animation at the beginning and end doesn’t hurt any either.