An adaptation of a classic film to a stage production is a challenge that Gilad Kimchi successfully confronts with brilliant performances by Itay Titan and Efrat Ben Zur. Based on Ingmar Bergman 1973 film, Scenes from a Marriage, the plot unfolds the intricate and unsettling process of disengaging emotionally from a partner whom one stills loves and cares for.
Johan (Itai Tiran) and Marianne (Efrat Ben Zur) are married and seem to have it all. Their happiness, however, is a façade for a troubled relationship, which becomes even rockier when Johan admits that he’s having an affair. The spouses separate and move towards finalizing their divorce, but they make attempts at reconciliation. Even as they pursue other relationships, Johan and Marianne realize that they have a strong bond, but there are also many issues that hinder that connection.
Once you set foot into the theatre, you are already intellectually intrigued when finding two Barbie- and Ken-like dolls on a dark stage only lit by a single beam of light. As the stage is fully lit, you are immediately invited into the cosy little Swedish apartment of Johan and Marian. The married couple dealing with the familiar issues and pressures of everyday life quickly enthrals the audience. The dolls from the opening act become yet another toy to pick up from the living room’s floor, an end-of-day ritual performed by millions of young parents at the end of each day before going to bed.
In scene one, we are introduced to Johan, a university professor and his wife, Marianne, a lawyer specialising in divorce. They have two daughters, we never see. Marian and Johan have decided that they do not wish to go to Marianne’s mother for dinner. They argue over who will break the news to her mother. Eventually, Marianne makes the call while Johan sits nearby, watching her fail in opting out of the family dinner.
This is the beginning of the end. The family unit is falling apart when Johan announces to Marianne that he is in love with another woman. And from that point on, we watch the couple hop on an emotional rollercoaster, from the shock of separation to an exhibition of human flaws of fear, loneliness, and the ever-opposing forces of love and marriage.
Johan and Marianne’s journey becomes very real with the superb acting of Tiran and Ben Zur. The bright and powerful Itay Tiran is fully matched by the strong performance of Efrat Ben Zur. They both convincingly convey the panic, insecurity, and tantalizing nature of a couple falling out of love. Powered by the well-chosen soundtrack, beautiful staging, costumes and lighting, the play is an interesting study of married life.
This iconic play by Ingmar Bergman was performed on the Cameri stage for the first time in 1995. Now, twenty-two years later, in collaboration with the Gesher Theatre, it proves again that apparently, pain is an inevitable part of love. As best stated by Bergman himself “Everyone likes happiness, no one likes pain. But you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain”. And what an absorbing scene it is!