Theater Review

Cruel and Tender By Martin Crimp Habimah National Theater at the Meskin Hall December 30, 2005.

cruel and tender 88 (photo credit: )
cruel and tender 88
(photo credit: )
In his updated version of "The Trachiniae" (The Women of Trachis) - Sophocles' tragic dramatization of the abuses of war - Martin Crimp demonstrates that after 2,500 years, nothing much has changed. His "General" character (a substitute for Sophocles' Heracles) is charged with genocide, having ostensibly been involved in fighting a war against terror. The first two thirds of the play center on his pampered wife Amelia, and reveal the political spin, hypocrisy, megalomania, lust and marital betrayal that exist beneath the surface. Martin Crimp's poetic use of the English language is a powerful dramatic tool, but it does not make up for the many character faults of the play or its quirky structure. Idit Teperson, as the sophisticated and statuesque Amelia, gives a magnif icent performance. And although Clara Huri is a gifted actress, her performance as La'ela, the captive lover of the General, is so weakly sculpted that the tension that should surface between the two is never generated. The narcissistic Amelia's suicide, with flashing red satin accompaniment, is no more than a melodramatic interlude, overdramatized because it is disconnected from the ongoing action. Igal Naor, however, as the broken, demented, cathetercapped General, is magnificent. Director Arthur Kogan's attempts to compensate for the play's defects with sensational sound and lighting effects are ultimately ineffective. Despite Bambi Friedman and Uri Morag's compelling set and lighting design, the play never approaches the sophistication of Sophocles' classic.