Binyamin Yom Tov crawls onstage meowing at the opening moments of Peacock, his highly personal theatrical, and skin-exposed, performance.
The cat persona refers to itself as female, speaks with a Russian accent, and craves petting. “She” is quickly replaced with other personas. These include a Persian-Jewish man who speaks with a Farsi accent, Eve having a conversation with the serpent, and a mythical strutting peafowl. The delightful pastiche of standup comedy, drag show, and confession hurls viewers through Persian-Jewish family dynamics, Netanya, and Jewish mythology.
“You are so nice, so easygoing, so pretty, why don’t you have a girlfriend? When will you bring one home?” Yom Tov asks while in character of a stand-in for all Jewish-Farsi parents.
Showing off his excellent Hebrew
Yom Tov flexes his muscular Hebrew in this show, shifting from specific street-smart argot to elegiac Hebrew while piling catchphrases to come to a point where a new meaning bursts out.
In this case, the repetition and body twisting acquire a somber tone when the script is flipped.
“Bring a boyfriend home,” the Farsi father figure says, “he will complete a minyan” (the religious quorum needed to hold a Jewish prayer service).
“There will be strength in this household,” the father-like character adds.
At first, it is easy to mistake the characters seen on stage as lifted from “bourekas” films, a genre made popular in the 1970s using highly stereotypical characters to make audiences guffaw. Yom Tov exploits this cultural familiarity to lull viewers into a fake sense of safety, then turns the tables.
Since the 2014 gender-crossing hit single “Po Ze Lo Iropa” (This is not Europe), gay argot has won the pop-music culture wars. Clubbing and electronic music created for this show by Daniel Magon make it a true winner.
One of the catchphrases the Farsi-accented character often uses is BeEmet HaTorah (Gospel truth).
In a wonderful transformation scene, Yom Tov assumes the guise of a Farsi salesman who offers the audience a pair of high-heeled gold slippers.
“Torah’s truth!” he exclaims, “With these shoes, you can do everything, why, you can run, you can play soccer, and they are so comfortable! BeEmet HaTorah I am not selling; I am keeping them for myself!”
During another scene, Eve (Yom Tov) speaks with the serpent who promises her, BeEmet HaTorah, to redeem her from her loneliness.
“Have you not wondered why God keeps Adam all to himself?” he asks her.
The changed Eve becomes Yom Tov, who becomes a proud peacock angel who shakes the stage as it recites in Farsi, repeatedly, without translation.
“I am the great peacock/ I shall fly in the blue sky/ spread my tail, block the sun./ Day shall become Night/ then will I cry out/ soon the kingdom of lies shall perish from the earth/ and truth will appear everywhere.”
Peacock by Binyamin Tom Tov will be shown at HaBait Theater, 5 Noam St. Tel Aviv, on September 27-28 at 9 p.m. Hebrew only. Contains nudity and frank discussions of sexuality. Not suitable for minors. Book tickets via phone 03 9054421 or visit www.habait-theatre.org.il .