Bad things continue to happen to Habima, the national theater of Israel. The renovation of the historic building was supposed to be ready during the previous season, but it looks like even its inauguration is not sure for this season either. Exiled in improvised halls, most of them below the minimal technical requirements and/or suffering from access and parking problems, the theater seems to be in permanent improvisation mode. What is worse however is that they are making in many cases bad artistic choices.

 

Rami Heuberger and Ricky Blich

(source http://habima.co.il/show_item.asp?levelId=64420&itemId=216&title=&template=1&src=VF/ib_items/5915/pic16.jpg)

 

This is the case of the performance with Irish author Stella Feehily‘s ‘O Go My Man’ which is brought to stage here under the name ‘Monogamia’ (Monogamy) which I saw last night. Even from the title which brings in clear the anagram of the central theme of the play we are faced with one of the principal problems of the Habima choice – the Hebrew adaptation of the Irish author’s play. I confess not to be at all the fan of the Israeli habit of relocating plays in Israel, changing slightly the names of the characters and the seting, sometimes inserting local political jokes. At least the last outrage is spared to the audiences of ‘Monogamia’ but most of what at second thought must be a complex intrigue with a rich baggage of symbols is lost in the translation and localization of the action from Ireland to Israel. The symbol of Alice for example or the character of the Polish immigrant which provides the comic counterpoint are completely lost. In a country like ours where a real and intense conflict is far from being healed even the post-trauma situation of the main character is hard to accept.

 

Amnon Wolf, Dov Reiser, Ricky Blich

(source http://habima.co.il/show_item.asp?levelId=64420&itemId=216&title=&template=1&src=VF/ib_items/5908/pic9.jpg)

 

The audience reacted accordingly last night. I have seldom seen here a performance in theaters where actors are called back at the final applause only once. It would not have happened if the staging of the play did not make the close to two hours (no break) experience simply boring. I am sorry to say, but as much as I like Rami Heuberger as an actor, he is no stage director, maybe not yet. This is obvious starting with the casting, where some clear miscasts are immediately perceived beginning with himself in the main role. He seems to have aimed to copy Jack Nicholson’s appearance without Jack Nicholson’s sex appeal, so it is hard to understand how and why the character played by Ricky Blich (good casting here and maybe the best acting in the performance) falls for him. Why Dov Reiser accepted such a small collection of roles is hard to understand. It’s maybe the economy, stupid, as the actors at Habima were on strike for their unpaid salaries last week. The strike was cancelled a few days before the performance yesterday, but after seeing it I am almost sorry that it did not go on for a while.