Theater Review: The Disabled

The Sopranos meet The Innocents meet Shakespeare.

‘The Disabled' (photo credit: DANIEL KAMINISKI)
‘The Disabled'
(photo credit: DANIEL KAMINISKI)
The Disabled By Gur Koren
Directed by Gilad Kimchi
Bet Lessin, October 10
Every so often there is an “event” in our theater, a play that is a cut above. The Disabled is such a one. It is very, very funny. It is also wise and compassionate, a play that accepts human frailty without either excusing or justifying it; a recognition that it just is.
Its Hebrew title is Hamugbalim, which the theater has translated as The Disabled. “The Impaired” would be a better title. The OED defines disabled as made unable whereas impaired means damaged, or weakened which here fits better, because for better or worse, so are the characters and the situations.
The Sopranos meet The Innocents meet Shakespeare. The Jornos, Tuvia (Yoram Toledano), Vera (Anat Magen-Shabo), son Tsuriel (Yaniv Biton) and enforcer Tiran (Hai Maor) are a crime famiglia whose cover is Vera’s bridal salon and whose thing is coke – large quantities of it.
Destination: Macedonia. Except that the first shipment has gone awry and the client is not pleased.
The Innocents are a professional theater group of “special needs” people ranging from blind Astar (Efrat Baumwald) to profoundly deaf Nina (Ortal Ohayon) to Cahana (Ofir Weil) who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, to those with borderline or below intelligence.
They are Tsahal (Nadav Nates), Yinon (Yaniv Levy), Hemda (Orna Rotbeg) and Nadiv (Lior Garti).
The Innocents are rehearsing Romeo and Juliet for a festival to be held in – wait for it – Macedonia.
Dikla Hadar plays Keshet, their patient, supportive director.
Except their trip has been adversely affected by government budget cuts.
Their worlds collide when Cahana and (I think) Nadiv come to the salon seeking a donation so they can go.
Sparks, quarks, and for all we know, Higgs’s bosons accelerate from there.
Why Romeo and Juliet? Is it fate and forces? Pathos and poetry that transcends the ordinary, and yes, impairment.
Mixing metaphors, director Kimchi keeps this clipper with its phenomenal crew running yarely before the wind. There’s not an actor whose character isn’t fully made, rounded, individual and memorable for that.
Lily Ben-Nahshon’s opulent bridal salon contrasts wonderfully with the grotty public air raid shelter where Keshet rehearses her troupe. Ula Shevtsov’s costumes, especially those for Vera and Astar, are on the nose as are lighting and music, Keren Granek and Amir Lekner respectively.
As I said, an “event.”