Theatre Ad Infinitum’s new show deals with the theme of Israel’s relationship to Jewish history and the current situation in the occupied territories. The production is presented as the work of Star – a cross-dressing cabaret performer – and her Starlets, who add life to the storytelling with some very energetic dance sequences and carefully choreographed reconstructions.
Ballad sets out to expose the irony of a nation state quite understandably fixated on the persecution of its people throughout history, and yet which deploys this narrative in justifying the gross neglect and mistreatment of the Arab community existing within its occupied territories. In order to illustrate this, Ballad tells the story of a young child named Israel who witnesses this first-hand, and his dilemma when faced with conscription.
In a crucial scene, a teacher lectures the young Israel on modern day anti-Semitism, defining this as disloyalty to the state. There is an attempt to reconcile this with what is known of Israel’s internal and foreign policies – often not merely defensive, but retaliative.
It’s a fast paced, ear-blistering and caustic piece, but which wins over its audience by breaking the intensity and seriousness with frequent moments of comedy – especially from Paldi, who has a natural charm and intelligence as a performer.
My concern is that beyond drawing our attention to this state of affairs, this piece adds little to the debate by way of constructive suggestion. This said, Ballad still achieves much in pointing to the inconsistencies and by forcing its audience to empathise with those on either side.