Theater review / Three to tango
Amoz Oz's epistolary novel from 1987 told the story of the complex relationships of Ilana Brandstetter with the two men in her life. With both, she was the principal sexual figure.
Habima Theater and Be'er Sheva Theater present "Black Box," based on the book by Amos Oz; written and directed by Hanan Snir; dramatic composition: Mor Frank; scenery: Kinneret Kish; costumes: Neta Hecker; music: Yossi Ben Nun; lighting: Hanni Vardi; dance: Marina Baltov
Amoz Oz's epistolary novel from 1987 told the story of the complex relationships of Ilana Brandstetter with the two men in her life. With both, she was the principal sexual figure. The first was Alexander Gideon - a tough, condescending, unemotional, macho battalion commander - whom she married in the late 1960s.
The second was Michel Sommo, a religious Sephardi French teacher with far right-wing political views who buys property in the territories. There are children from both men - a boy and a girl. The first father does not accept his paternity of the rebellious growing boy. In the late `70s, Ilana and Michel try to extract money from the first husband, who owns property inside the Green Line, and he contacts them through his lawyer.
The play by Hanan Snir presents the relationships between the characters through the letters, revealing the plot in which two men are sparring over a woman - essentially trampling her - while the younger generation loses its way.
Snir creates a complex relationship and fascinating images, and evokes much love and compassion for the characters - with excellent scenery by Kinneret Kish that is constructed of frames and which makes excellent use of curtains, with a symbolic red bougainvillea tree.
Arie Moskona is as juicy and animated as can be in the role of the lawyer, Yael Amit is painfully reserved and convincing in three roles, mainly as the heroine's sister. The child actress Ayla Armoni is extremely natural, and the boy Avi Kornik is fascinating in the difficult and passionate role of Boaz, the son.
The main triad comprises experienced actors who it seems have never been better: Rami Heuberger reveals additional, more adult and more powerful aspect of the first husband. Yaakov Cohen designs, in a captivating and open-hearted manner the part of Michel Sommo. And in the middle is Osnat Fishman, who succeeds in transmitting to the audience the deep pain of her character, jolted between love and sorrow.
At the end of the play, just before the cast took its bow, the characters dance a tango (to the excellent music of Yossi Ben-Nun), which is a sort of motif of Ilana's life. She dances first with her first husband and then with the second, when suddenly she seemingly leaves the picture and the two men - political and personality opposites, the two sides of Israel, those on the Ashkenazi left who are in decline and falling apart, and those on the Sephardi right who are gaining power - dance with one another a dance of state and sorrow, leaving Ilana utterly abandoned, with her children.
In 2003, the novel about the black box of interpersonal relationships, which at the time it was written did not lack for signs of social allegory, has become more powerful, due to events that have occurred since then. This imparts a dimension to Oz's writing - thanks to Snir and his actors - of sensitive social seismograph, with the ability to predict an alarming reality.