Habima, The National Theater of Israel did not yet return home during this season despite the promises made last fall. Something about construction or safety permits, an example probably of the traditional mix of bureaucracy and inefficiency which makes so many of of our national projects turn into matter of jokes or inquiry committees or both and maybe also of future theater shows. The problem is that the dispersing of the staging halls seem to have led to a fragmentation of the repertory, and the improvisation needed to accommodate with different staging places seems to have spread in the artistic choices. Not only had I a difficult time picking the three plays to see this year, but each seems in a different genre, made in a different style and almost nothing reminds that we are attending a first rank theater performance.

 

source http://habima.co.il/

 

Post Trauma is an interesting project. It started with an exchange of experience between Israeli and German playwrights who visited each other’s country and spent time with the local artists and people, questioning and trying to understand to what extent the trauma of the Holocaust and the horror that split the German and Jewish people are still alive in the lives of the two countries and the perceptions of the two people about each other. The result was six plays, four written by Israelis, two by the German writers, dealing closer or remotely, directly or in a more implicit manner with the subject.

 

source http://habima.co.il/

 

The idea is good, the execution is uneven. The first play Tikkun (Correction) by Yariv Gotlieb sends the conflict in the bedroom level, describing the relationship between an Israeli man and a German woman, in a manner that seems simplified and vulgar down to almost the level of pornography. Jazz by Thomas Mahle succeeds better to turn a grotesque con-story into an apparent conflictual situation, playing with the reality and the artificiality of the historical and cultural differences. The last play in the first part which also gives the name of the whole representation was also the best structured in my opinion (the author is Tal Schiff) with the alternate plans and subtle characters inserting their feelings rather than drumming them. Beit Sheni (The Second Home) by Dana Idisis which opened the second half told nicely but a little too explicitly a story about passing the feeling of fear between generations. Kentucky Asia by Johann Birk was fully forgettable but luckily the evening ended with the much better Mishakh Zikharon (Memory Game) by Noah Lazar, which created credible characters at the brink between farce and tragedy.

 

source http://habima.co.il/

 

Director Dedi Brown had an interesting material to work with and her success is partial. The stage is filled with a grid of chairs which are under-used. Actors are doing a good job, but they are directed sometimes in the direction of grotesque, other times in a realistic manner, and again the concept is not clear. Two songs seed an idea which could have been maybe used more intensely – the first was in a German cabaret style, the second one an Israeli army band style song – maybe the juxtaposition of the two styles would have created an interesting effect if used more often. The final song said a lot about the exaggerated persistence of memory, about the trauma that turns into obsession and that risks to generate self-victimization and to obliterate the feelings of human compassion to other people’s suffering. It looked however as a patch applied too late to a performance which was mostly spent talking about something else.