Theater Review: Ichsh Fisher

Perhaps 'Ichsh Fisher’s greatest accomplishment is that the audience too shares Fisher’s uneasy sense of inevitability.

Theater.311 (photo credit: Nathan Brusovany)
(photo credit: Nathan Brusovany)
Ichsh Fisher
By Hanoch Levin
Directed by Roni
Cameri Theater 1/10/10
It’s not easy being a Hanoch Levin character. They do not like the skin they live in.
The most ordinary action provokes an existential dilemma. Emotional trauma is a mode of being.
Adrift in his life, poor Ichsh Fisher (Shmuel Viloszny) fits right into the tradition. Except that his dilemma is different. Feebly urinating one day, between one glance and the next, he discovers that his penis has fallen off into the toilet bowl from whence it gets flushed into the plumbing and from there out to sea.
In a burst of daring, Fisher sets out on a quest to retrieve this most essential portion of his anatomy. He has adventures, meets strange people, but alas returns penis-less and “there was a moment when I thought I had something…” but no.
Yet at least he tries, and perhaps essentially, that what Ichsh Fisher is about, our restless and perpetual quest to discover what makes us unique in the short span we have.
The quest symbols are all there, wrapped deliberately within dirty-little-boy language. We have the name, Fisher, we have two fishermen characters, we have the sea. The restlessness is mirrored in the multiple stages that characterize the Cameri III space with its revolving chairs. Olga Smorgonsky’s richly inventive set and costumes reflect a Fisher- eye view of the world and the music by Yossi Ben Nun provides an apt continuo.
There’s not a slouch in the company. The direction is tight. Viloszny inhabits Fisher like a desperate tenant facing eviction. His Fisher is a totality, from stance, to voice, to walk. It’s an amazement. The peerless Keren Mor is delightfully repellent as the solidly-fleshed Parnabatche, Pzazamutra and the Princess with the heroinchic look. Moti Katz and Eran Sarel’s airy virtuosity lends a welcome irreverence to their many characters and Albert Cohen as Bronchos the fisherman is suitably philosophic. Perhaps Ichsh Fisher’s greatest accomplishment is that the audience too shares Fisher’s uneasy sense of inevitability.
“What’s to be done now?” he asks at the end of the play.
“Nothing, I suppose.”