Ethnic Theater - Jewish
La MaMa, Manhattan
Victor Attar and Geula Jeffet Attar might well be considered the Alfred Lunt-Lynn Fontanne of Israel. This gifted theatrical couple have performed on both sides of the Atlantic for numerous years, often bringing their work to the La MaMa theater off-Broadway. As founding members of La MaMa Tel Aviv, they have worked closely with their American counterparts.
The latest Attar effort—Shlomi Moskovitz’s expressionistic play “Seven Days” is now in New York, featuring Victor Attar and directed by his wife Geula. It is an unusual, yet oddly familiar, piece, which reveals a mix of modern and ancient influences. On one level, it is the tale of a modern dysfunctional family, of chaotic relationships—material that is indeed familiar to the current American stage. A noted poet returns to visit his ex-mistress, whom he has not seen in eighteen years. Will she return to him once more or stayed with her devoted husband? At the same time, her precocious teen-age daughter is equally drawn to the poet.
On another level, “Seven Days” is a Biblical parable, so the author claims, with the daughter reading aloud from the Book of Genesis. Chaos is there, in the family as in the Torah, but gradually gives way to harmony and resolution. The parallels of the two levels are intriguing, but in fact are never integrated. Though the daughter reads from the Bible, it does not influence any one’s behavior.
As to structure, do not expect a play which proceeds in normal fashion—a plot with a beginning, middle, and end. It is a series of internal monologues—and occasional overt dialogues—as characters move about, exploring their innermost thoughts and yearnings. “Seven Days” is loaded with metaphysics, memories, and a strong infusion of modern obscenities. Moskovitz, it seems, is equally inspired by the Torah, Samuel Beckett, and the current jargon.
Does the play work? In its own way, it carries a clout. For starters, director Attar has created a nearly-bare stage, furnished only with a tree and several tree stumps (think: “Waiting for Godot”). The four actors stand about, moving in and out of the spotlight, coupling and separating, as they deliver lines. Gradually, the characters and their histories emerge, until the viewer is caught up in the story.
The four actors—Victor Attar, Deborah Carlson, Udi Razzin, and Ofrit Peres Shiran—give strong performances. Attar comes off well as the poet, though his distinctive Israeli accent does not make it easy to follow his lines. Carlson is radiant as the troubled wife, Shiran provides her a delicious contrast as the outrageous teen-ager, and Razzin, in a smaller role as the wronged husband, is indeed moving. Because these actors are so good, one becomes emotionally invested in their lives.
Under Geula Attar’s direction, it is all clean, sharp, and, in its way, memorable.
-- Irene Backalenick
Mar. 26, 2008