In our so-called progressive world, you might think there is no longer a place for such a character as the conservative old woman (Elat Hagage) at the center of this play, who throws the words kike and nigger as nonchalantly as one throws the trash. But, and it’s a big but, you’d be surprised to find out in this production how many of the values held dear by her have, without notice, seeped through into our current time and they are still alive and kicking in one disguise or another. Shifting from the comic to the dramatic, from the erotic to the infantile, the life story of the nameless woman unfolds, as she struggles with the progression of Alzheimer and with the changing values of the world.
The three tall women of this play, though of varying ages, from the 90+ years old main character, her 52 years old caretaker (Michal Green), and the 26 of age lawyer’s representative (Abigail Friedmann), are actually all played in this production by young actresses. Although behind her crone costume, Elat Hagage is noticeably young, it does not pose a problem; on the contrary, it creates a wonderful tension between the character’s inner world, her reminiscences of times long gone, and her current outward shriveled appearance, her second childishness, which Elat Hagage with great sensitivity and spirit amplifies through her performance.
This fringe production by the group “Bamat Hasachkanim” (במת השחקנים) is yet again a testimony that the theatre in Israel has a future, and that what is required for a successful production is not over-the-top budgets and a cast of celebrities, but first and foremost quality acting and directing. Michal Green, as the middle-aged caretaker, stuck between the old and the young, skillfully shifts between detachment and affection towards the one and then the other, and in her second role, as the middle-aged version of the dying old lady, Michal’s performance is passionate and touching. During the second part of the play, it seems at times that the performance is a bit scattered across the stage, that there is too much unneeded movement and too little room for breath and focus, but mostly everything clicks and the drama surges. Although at first Abigail Friedmann, the factual lawyer’s representative, seems to be lagging behind, she quickly picks up the pace and gracefully balances the austere atmosphere with her naiveté, until the harsh reality shatters her as well.
Mostly known for his play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, in this play Edward Albee tackles his own life and his complex relationship with his mother. As personal as this play is, it nonetheless transcends Albee’s individual story and manages to touch the individual struggle with which we all ultimately face; a struggle with our inevitable death and our fading memories, with happiness and rejection, intimately and wonderfully brought to the stage in this production.