I have seen last Saturday the most recent play brought to stage at the Gesher Theater in Jaffo – Moliere’s Don Juan under the direction of the Bulgarian guest director Alexander Morfov. Although it does not reach the peak levels I am used to expect from this theater, one of top two ensembles in Israel, it provides for a satisfying theater evening for most of the time.
I knew nothing about Morfov, and the Internet information tells me that he is easily the most recognisable name in contemporary Bulgarian theatre. Fans of the Gesher immediatly will recognize that he comes from the same school of thought as theater leader and artistic director Evgheny Arie. His cut on the French classic text is cinematographic and allows for freedom of creation to gifted actors, while keeping the essence and the main philosophical lines of the play.
The team of talents at Gesher asks nothing but be given such an opportunity. The result is an homogeneous and interesting performance for most of the time, with the theater star Sasha Demidov shining in another of his master roles, one that fits him and allows him to create a Don Juan of his own. The best Don Juan I have ever seen on stage was maybe 40 years ago on the stage of the Comedia Theater in Bucharest. I remember that the director was Dinu Cernescu, I forgot who acted as Don Juan. I am pretty sure that for this performance I will not forget that Sasha Demidov was Don Juan. Dvir Benedek seconds Demidov as Sganarel and it is amazing how this actor finds his potential on this stage after the great performance he gave in Revizor which I wrote about two weeks ago.
The only disappointment comes unfortunately in the final scene – the scene that cuts short the path of sin and revolt against God of Don Juan and brings to the audiences his meeting with destiny in the image of the spirit of the Comandore. The stage solution for this scene makes or breaks often the whole performance and defines the work of a great director. I was disappointed by what Morfov created here. Maybe I am spoiled by the fabulous final scene created by Zeffirelli on the stage of the Opera a few years ago and expectations were too high. In any case, this otherwise good performance ended for me in an unexpected low tone key.