Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Tuesday, 11 November 2003
Two by Ron Elisha, Nov 11, 2003
Two by Ron Elisha Soul Theatre Inc.
Theatreworks, November 11 to 29, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Complex and intelligent writing with impeccable acting - there's a good recipe for a night at the theatre. Ron Elisha's play, Two, has both.
Two deals with a series of meetings in a basement in Germany during 1948, between a Rabbi (Bruce Kerr ) and a young woman, Anna(Anastasia Malinoff.Anna comes to the Rabbi, who survived the Holocaust, to learn Hebrew in order to immigrate to the embryonic state of Israel.
Kerr and Malinoff are a finely tuned duo. Their performances are passionate, sympathetic and beautifully timed.The relationship between them is dynamic and, after the revelations of their respective dark histories, their communication becomes volatile and unpredictable.
Hell is a Jew without a God, says the Rabbi, although he already experienced his own hell in Auschwitz where he lost his faith.The Rabbi believes only in the present. He also questions Anna's shallow views of what makes a Jew and why Palestine should be partitioned.
Elisha's script is witty, poetic, informed and informative. We even learn to understand snippets of Hebrew along the way.The play slowly peels back the layers on these two lives and the totally different horrors they have lived.They keep from each other dreadful secrets each nursing his or her private guilt.
Director, David Myles, heightens the hidden stories and secrecy by having the actors play some moments with their very eloquent backs to the audience.
Two deals with race, prejudice, forgiveness and the politics of language. It a cleverly raises the issues surrounding Israel and Palestine without preaching.
The play elaborates on the issues of peace, morality, truth, race and philosophy by dissecting the Hebrew language. Each word has a life of its own and informs the story in a distinctive and lyrical way.
The simple and effective design, by Peter Mumford, ) of rough wooden slats and old furniture, provides an almost claustrophobic space for the actors.
Bronwyn Pringle's lighting design sends dramatic shafts of light through the slatted roof and the doorway and the sound design ( Jethro Woodward provides an ominous atmosphere.
The tone of the piece shifts effortlessly from the witty repartee to emotional outpourings to semantic discussions of language.
Two is a challenging and skilful night in the theatre.