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New End Theatre


An Israeli Love Story


Written and directed by Pnina Gary


Lighting by Liad Malone


Set by Avi Wertzel


New End Theatre


19 May – 6 June 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A review by Bernie Whelan for EXTRA! EXTRA!

Pnina Gary is a leading figure in Israeli National theatre having had a long career as an actress and as Artistic Director of the Theatre for Children and Youth. This is an autobiographical work which grew from a ‘Roots’ project with her grandson’s school. A one Act, hour long, one woman play acted by Adi Bielski, it tells how the young ‘Margalit’ falls in love with ‘Ami’ (Eli Ben–Zvi, son of the second President of Israel ) in the heady years between 1942  and 1948 as the United Nations moved towards declaring Israel a state. Eli is an idealistic kibbutz pioneer and soldier in the Palmach (the unofficial army pre–state of Israel) and the hero of the play which was written ‘to erect a monument to commemorate those wonderful young men who were really and truly prepared to die so that the State of Israel could be born. It has been performed to great acclaim throughout Israel.


So I found myself among a predominately Jewish audience in Hampstead who received what was, in effect, Zionist propaganda designed to encourage support for Israeli conscription, with great enthusiasm which I could not share. While An Israeli Love Story is presented by an ingénue, skipping across the stage and singing charming Israeli tunes as she dreams of  catching her heart-throb’s eye, the actress Adi Bielski also has to deliver the national story which requires many a mouthful of dates and international events and although this is partially achieved through the device of radio broadcasts, the effect was to highlight the story of Israel at the expense of the love story.


There were more subtle moments, for instance the Shoah is not spoken of explicitly but implied by the inability of even the most optimistic character, Margalit's father, to find words when the news comes through. The humour also had a light touch and the play was genuinely entertaining throughout. Now I like Fiddler on the Roof as much as the next person, but the problem for me is that this story was too one-sided. There is nothing wrong with this in principle if you happen to be on the same side, as the obvious appreciation of the audience demonstrated. We learn much about the wholesome culture of Margalit’s home in the Moshav and the collective ideals of the kibbutz imported from Russia but what of the Arabs? They put their cattle on ‘kibbutz land’ to lure seven brave Israeli soldiers out to be shot by 400 ‘murderers’ and that’s really all we hear about them, nothing about their displacement from the land which they had farmed before the Jewish settlers arrived, nothing about the denial of their rights.
Adi Belski was beguiling on stage, she really did bring a culture and community to life. However, I felt the play was marred by political grandstanding, so unless you like your theatre full of nationalist propaganda, I wouldn't recommend it.

 


Box Office 0870 033 2733
http://www.newendtheatre.co.uk
New End Theatre
27 New End
Hampstead
London
NW3 1JD
Tickets £16/£14 concs

 

 

 

 

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