Brighton Fringe 2014
Lovely piece of theatre and storytelling that pays homage to a generation of Eastern Europeans is beautifully played by Israeli Theatre Company.
This clever and thoroughly enjoyable play by Gur Koren has been translated from Israeli by Ariella Eshed who also directed this production. A jolly good thing too! In true Brechtian style an actor walks on stage and informs us that he is an actor and that he is going to play the part of Gur. The other actors come in out of his story playing a range of different characters and the ‘actor playing Gur’ continues to step in and out of the action commenting on the situations Gur finds himself in and even on the nature of actors. It’s just one of a number of theatrical devices that works really well and which are all enjoyed by the audience. Gur’s dead grandfather starts appearing in random characters. He literally ‘pops up’ in other people and the device the company uses to show this is done with simple panache that is great fun to watch. Gur’s Grandfather lived in Eastern Europe through the momentous period of the early 20th century when great swathes of people had to leave their homelands, often without anything but the clothes on their backs, to go and find other lands where they could try and start new lives. The fascinating history of these people is told in this play in a way that makes it a cultural experience as well as great entertainment. It’s a pleasure to hear the Eastern European dialects; Polish, Lithuanian, Hungarian and Hebrew. It’s also especially enjoyable to hear the the long and sonorous names that people were given in Eastern Europe in those times. Then there is the Yiddish, a sort of cockney version of Hebrew that is as much fun as cockney and especially in this play when it comes from the horse’s mouth as it were; from the time when these wonderful words were widely spoken. Yiddish and Hebrew are of course the Jewish languages and this is an Israeli play and a number of members of the audience had obviously come for a bit of Jewish history and culture, and they were not disappointed. The play is a history lesson and homage to a generation that some people in the audience probably remembered or had family stories about. But this is not just a play for those interested Jewish history. It is a fascinating, enjoyable (and sometimes bawdy) experience that everyone would enjoy.
I would like to point out good individual performances from the company, but the four actors were all so good and all in such harmony with each other that it wouldn’t be right to single out any one performance.
I do hope this production continues to be performed and that audiences around the world get to see such a well written and well executed piece of imaginative and interesting theatre. This is the stuff that good Fringe Festivals are made of.