Adapted by Micha Loewensohn and Avner Ben-Amos from the book by David Grossman Directed by Dror Keren Cameri, Tel Aviv, July 17.

DROR KEREN stars in ‘A Horse Walks into a Bar’. (photo credit: GERARD ALON)
DROR KEREN stars in ‘A Horse Walks into a Bar’.
(photo credit: GERARD ALON)
When Dovaleh G (Dror Keren) gets heckled from the audience – there are actors sown among it to do that – (former) Judge Avishay Lazar (Igal Zachs) and childhood friend bellows at them, “Let the man tell his story!” Which he does, and neither he nor the story get more attractive by the telling, because Dovaleh G is Dovaleh Greenstein, a second- rate comic doing his standup act of hoary old jokes liberally laced with verbal and physical sexual innuendo in a Netanya basement comedy club, the local equivalent, sort of, of Podunk, Ohio.
He doesn’t seem to be a particularly nice person either because at first Lazar doesn’t remember him, and he gratuitously insults the one who does. She’s Pitz (Aya Granit Shva), so called because she’s a dwarf.
It’s his birthday too, and he’s reminded of the one event that colored his past and defines his present, the death of his mother, the sequences of which he details minutely.
It’s difficult to watch him, because, with the hecklers, you’re thinking “shut up already. Been here. Done that,” because of course Dovaleh G is us, or most of us, who keep getting up after life has kicked us down, keep trying when everything we cherish is denatured.
“Remember me,” says Pitz when she goes onstage after the show’s ignominious end.
Gently he kisses her, and so (perhaps) himself back to humanity.
Does Horse work on stage? Yes, and no. Yes because of Keren whose portrayal of the self-absorbed, self-flagellating Dovaleh G is so encompassing, so no-holds-barred that you almost can’t bear to watch it. And because of Zachs and especially Granit Shva who invest their (in comparison) tiny roles with completely credible completeness.
Yossi Yarom, in his even tinier role of stage manager Yoav, manages beautifully his acute embarrassment at being where he is.
No for two reasons. One is the untimely death back in March of Micha Loewensohn, the show’s original director, thereby letting sentimentality creep in by the back door. As a theater piece Horse can’t afford a minute of it. The second is that the book last month won the prestigious International Man Booker Prize which, willy-nilly, makes the show iconic; that, it really doesn’t need.