Theater Review: The Rebels

A play set in the 1940s tells a particular tale.

"The Rebels'' (photo credit: GERARD ALLON)
"The Rebels''
(photo credit: GERARD ALLON)
This is a singing, dancing revival of what is essentially a family melodrama with inter-generational political implications tacked on.
Rebels opens at a cemetery in the present (the 1990s – the play was first performed in ’98), where middle-aged Michaela (Odeya Koren) and her son Yali (Gal Goldstein) are visiting her late mother’s grave where, for the first 10 minutes or so, they engage in fairly pointless bickering that ends with the son shoving off in a snit.
This is the moment for the appearance of Shaul (Oded Kotler), who reveals to the astounded Michaela that he was her mother’s lover for about 20 years, at which point we go back in time to 1967, just after the Six Day War, to see teenage Michaela (Dana Meinrat) in full hippy gear defying her parents, Marta (Danielle Gal) and Yoel (Micha Selektar), screeching that no way will she go to a Lehi memorial, that the state’s treatment of the Arabs is a disgrace... and is only bribed into going when her wheelchair-bound Aunt Alma (Aviv Carmi) promises her a camera.
“Lehi” is an acronym for Lohamei Herut Israel (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel), an extreme anti-British organization, aka terrorists, and it’s both Marta and Shaul’s membership in it and their actions on its behalf that drive the rest of the play, which moves between the mid-1940s and the present and through which Michaela gains a clearer and more compassionate understanding of the mother she despised.
Eran Atzmon’s set is essentially a series of black-box apertures that open and close to reveal past and present, as well as the musical interludes that punctuate the transitions between periods. Miri Lazar is the gifted choreographer who has designed the movement the dancers execute with precision and flair to period music collated by Yossi Ben-Nun.
Although the actors don’t really have much to get their teeth into, they bite persuasively on what they do have, with special kudos to Kotler, Gal and Meinrat. Micha Selektar is admirable as the unemotional Yoel Miller, a man who believes in bottom lines and who lends some credibility to Marta’s fuzzy passions, and Aviv Carmi lets us see the desperation behind the impulsive, undisciplined Alma. As young Shaul, Assaf Solomon tends to get a bit too emotionally noisy.
This play is not unworthy in itself, only too slight.