Entries tagged with “Gesher Theater”.


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.

 

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.

source www.gesher-theatre.co.il

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.

source www.gesher-theatre.co.il

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.

source en.wikipedia.org

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.

Gogol’s Revizor (The Inspector General as translated in English here) is one of these few great plays in the universal theater repertoire that has the potential of becoming inflammatory and subversive material for any society in any time. The combination between human observation and social critic have made uncomfortable many censors at many moments in history and places on the globe despite the play being written and referring to Russia of the 1830s. My Romanian friends who lived the times of the Communism regime may remember the big scandal that followed the presentation of the play under the direction of Lucian Pintilie at the Bulandra Theater in the 1970s, and the fact that censorship took it out of stage soon after the first representations enjoyed a great success. ‘Revizor’ puts in the face of the audiences a mirror where the reflection of their morals, and social and human failures is not easy to digest.

source www.gesher-theatre.co.il

Evgheny Arye’s performance at the Gesher Theater in Jaffo is one of the best stage events I have seen lately (the premiere took place last year). I cannot deny the fact that the style of direction may be much closer to the type of theater that I got used to in my younger days in Romania – a combination of respect to the spirit of the text and innovation in form that goes back to the classical theater genres, to popular theater and circus and to complex artistic performances with music on stage. It goes so far from the commercial theater and Broadway inspired style that is popular in Israel, and I am quite concerned that the commercial appeal for such theater is decreasing as the audiences used with the style of directing driven by Aryeh are also decreasing in numbers after the pick of the alyah from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s. This is life however, but with the theater performing only a few times each week I would not have expected emlty seats at such a good performance (there were not too many however).

source www.gesher-theatre.co.il

The fluent staging of the ‘Revizor’ is all the time interesting and challenging visually and emotionally. I will describe what I perceive as a measure of the quality of the directing just by observing the performances in the two principal roles in the play. The Governor is played by Dvir Benedek – who is an Israeli actor made popular by redneck roles in crime dramas and TV commercials. Here he is all the atemporal archetype of the local Mafia boss can be, with the lies and brutality, corruption and stupidity of this eternal type. Khlestakov (the Revizor) is played by Alon Friedman, another younger Israeli-born actor which I do not remember from any other film, play or TV show. He makes here a memorable creation, a complex combination of ingenuity and shrewdness, and we can see the virus of corruption taking control over him as the play progresses. I can only hope that he will use the huge potential that the director put in evidence in his creation for the further roles in his career.

The Web site of the Gesher Theater is available at http://www.gesher-theatre.co.il/.

I have seen last night probably the best theater performance of the season with the Jaffa Gesher Theater production of Luigi Pirandello‘s Six Characters in Search of an Author. I am glad to end this year’s season with this performance, especially as this is also the best show that I have seen for many years at Gesher, a theater that meant so much in the Israeli landscape in the 90s but seemed to be in free fall during the last few seasons. I hope that this is the sign of a strong rebound.

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

I have seen the play on stage only once in the past at the acting school studio in Bucharest. It was a memorable performance then with the young actors of a solid generation approaching with passion and sensitivity the complex text of Pirandello, one of the most intelligent exercise of theater in theater that was ever written, debating the relations between realism and sensibility, truth and reality, imagination and the role of of the actor, of the director and of the author in the art of theater.

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

With my expectations set high I was a little bit concerned of not being disappointed, taking in account my recent experiences at Gesher. To a large extent my concerns were not justified. The adaptation of Roee Chen cuts deeply in the text of the play, but keeps the essential of the message in a format fit to the needs and time budget (or what are perceived to be the needs and time budget) of the contemporary spectators. The invasion of the six characters seeking for the author to nail in words their suffering and emotions and to fix the tragic twists of destiny is translated into a drama played on the background of a century where reality shows tend to replace reality. Director Evgeny Arye is back to more direct ways of expressing emotions, and relies less on the spectacular circus-like effects that have become kind of a trademark of the theater in Jaffo lately, spectacular, but not always justified. The wonderful team of actors are perfect, starting with the big star of Gesher Israel (Sasha) Demidov in the role of The Director, peered with Moshe Ivgi as The Father, head of the family in seek of The Author (or of The Creator), and until the smaller roles of the younger children, who stay silent or are absent for most of the time of the play, just to make the final point in a moving and well thought ending.

Frankly, we considered canceling our subscription to the Gesher Theater next year. This performance convinced us to continue. A theater capable of putting on stage such a performance is worth continuing to be watched in expectation.