Review by Bob Greene
The Israeli Arts Project has brought from its native land, Divorced, the Play, whose story-line is quite common today – a divorced couple having to interact due to the presence of a son; they accidentally engage in deep discussions about each others new relationships; its turned out the reason for the breakup was due to the father’s decision to come out of the closet; but they remain deeply close as friends insinuating the philosophy of what a real realization is and even questions the regulations of “marriage” now in the 21st century.
There. That’s the plot and the resolution. That’s the play. That’s also the plot of everything from studio films to TV sitcoms. So why care about this production?
Because you will never see a play about one of life’s trials done as real and done as well acted to the point of wondering if this is a real situation. But it’s on stage you say, so it has to be a play. There again is where IAP gores where no show has gone before.
It’s done in people’s homes.
Written by Gur Koren, Translated by Adi Drori, Directed and Adapted by Matan Zrachia, and starring Emilly Bènami, Ron Orlovsky, the play puts us into a living room ( a real one) and an intimate conversation between a couple in deep discussion about life as single people in this era. Interesting takes on levels of homosexuality; the understanding one’s self; midlife issues; and the fear of commitment all swirl around a well-staged, superbly acted 75 minute play.
On the topic of well-acted, Emilly Bènami and Ron Orlovsky played off of each other, finished each others sentences, connected and disconnected in perfect unison. They were not doing a play they opened a window and let the neighborhood comprehend their emotion and familial issues. Bènami’s posture and voice quality belies her mood and her station in life flawlessly while Orlovsky played it “gay.” And before one might think that might be an inadequate or lazy choice, he has recently came out of the closet so immersion in the culture can be compared to someone who is born again. Orlovsky also had a noticeable but subtle accent. BUT that accent was ambiguous enough that he became the ambassador of any culture and thus all can identify with him in some way.
Koren’s play is unmistakably Jewish in its ideology (culturally, society, not religiously) and its use of Talmudic-in-style questions and deep-in-thought pauses (leaving actors alone with their thoughts on stage), but totally identifiable to all who witness and Zrachia’s feather-light directing style allowed the play to breathe in such a way that it cannot be consider anything but real.
Such a play and such a scheme has its obstacles. All depend on home availability and circumstances and could provide frustration in show frequency or atmosphere. But when all is said and done, this is [finally] a new style of theater and a new way to enhance acting and acting style. Producer
Yoni Vendriger has shown a level of bravery that should be envied. Bringing this to NYC is brave alone. Doing now, heroic.
Look for a clever moment when one of actors orders pizza to the specifications of the audience (unintentionally).