Theater Review: Pick Up the Kid

Its setting is sparse and effective.

The Cameri theater (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The Cameri theater
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Are we capable of bending time to our will, or does it make us dance to its tune?
“Conquering Time,” or how to make it work for us is the theme of Naomi Herstein’s (Adi Gilat) lecture, one of those inspirational talks that will forever change your life. Naomi spouts aphorisms like a kettle spouts steam – “Live in the present by remembering the past;” “Don’t let time rule you, it’s your servant” – and so on, except that this evening, she winsomely tells us, the lecture will be only 58 minutes as she has to pick up her daughter from school.
So far so good. Unfortunately from this point on the monodrama lapses into the dreary predictability of Coping With a Fatal Disease and What to Tell Your Precocious (naturally) Child, because – naturally – the husband is out of the picture. What we are left with is an admittedly well constructed melodrama that goes nowhere.
Its setting is sparse and effective. Video art by Itamar Lurie that charts Naomi’s shifting emotions, a plastic mat upon which she charts the chessboard her daughter has used to reach champion status, Uri Morag’s lighting that shifts from monochromatic pitiless present to multichromatic less distinct past.
Gilat and director von Schwartze have done their best to breathe life into this chestnut, which perhaps explains why Gilat becomes more strident and thereby less believable as the action progresses. The self-possessed and charming woman we meet becomes a stereotypical and more than a little unbalanced harpy for too much of the time.
The thing is that Pick Up the Kid has possibilities, provided that mental laziness is kicked very firmly out the door.
By Nir Strauss
Directed by Sara von Schwartze
Cameri, August 15