The Israeli mainstream theaters suffer from a repertory policy which encourages commercial plays and leaves too little room to my taste to innovation – both in what concerns the selected texts as well as the means of expression. The Beit Lessin Theater is no exception. When something is more interesting or more daring there are good chances that it comes from what they use to call the ‘young artists team’. This is the case with the performance that I saw last Friday. The selection of the text is a classic actually – an adaptation by Yaacov Shabtay of Niccolo Macchiavelli’s comedy La Mandragola – an early 16th century story of an pre-Don Juan type who cheats his way to the bedroom of the young wife of an old and rich notary – a play already staged twice in Israel in the 70s and in the 90s. The difference is in the means of expression and the result is a well paced and funny performance which can satisfy both the spectators looking for quality theater as well as the broader audiences.

Niccolo Machiavelli - source http://en.wikipedia.org/

The current adaptation keeps the basic premises of the play while taking a lot of freedom in the dialogs which add here and there a lot of hints for the contemporary Israeli audiences. Yet the principal message of of the play about fraud prevailing over virtue, religion and morality is well emphasized, and does not sound at all history on the stage in Tel Aviv. The 28 years old director Gilad Kimchi builds a well paced staging, which uses the basic techniques of the comedia dell’arte and mixes them with the modern concepts of total theater that combine text, music and stage movement. The team is composed of actors who all graduated from the Israeli theater schools in the last decade and they all give a good and very homogeneous performance. At the end this version of La Mandragola succeeds with its freshness of staging and enthusiasm of the young actors to earn the laughs and the applauds of the Friday night audiences in Tel Aviv looking for a good entertainment.