This is a performance I was not supposed to enjoy. I am not a fan of light and feel-good comedies, moralistic and happy-ending. ‘Harvey’ is a light, feel-good comedy that ends well and tells a few things about morals in our world. Being sold fantasies always rises my suspicion, and this play written by Mary Chase sells one and it’s a big one, one meter and 93.5 centimeters to be exact, with rabbit years as an extra. Broadway successes make me cautions and this was a big hit being represented more than 1700 times on the 48th street between 1944 and 1949. Yet, somehow, the performance at the Gesher Theater works and I am yet to find out why.

 

source http://www.gesher-theatre.co.il/he/

 

It may be that the need for goodness is so big that one almost automatically sympathizes with people who radiate goodness even if they happen to bring their oddities and the lack of fitting with the world around to their help. Elwood, the character that carries the play may be considered the a-normal but the norm and normality melt quickly under the charm of the text and of the lead actor Avi Greinich, whose performance is so convincing that we almost end by looking aside for a pooka or maybe puca (look into the Wikipedia explanation if you are curious) to keep us company after we step out of the Noga Theater in Jaffo. It’s even more remarkable to mention Greinich’s act as the lead role he entered in was played by James Stewart in the film version premiered in 1950.

 

(video source generic11281)

 

If the magic works this is certainly due also to the rest of the team of actors who all support the lead character. The performance cannot keep the pace for the whole duration of the show, and some repetitions and too much melodrama are visible in the second part. Maybe also the theater hall and stage are too big, I would have imagined the play better in a smaller theater, but then the hall was full on Saturday night, and this is good news for a theater that fought in the last few years with adverse economic conditions. Director of this version is Moshe Ivgy at his first run as a stage director. Actually I am not sure about this either, as his name is not mentioned for some reasons in the leaflet and program for the coming months, so there may have been some problems of a kind or another. Sets are very effective (again, no name mentioned in the program), and the overall impression is that feel-good theater does not necessarily mean bad theater.