The Cameri Theater presents "Things We Do for Love" by Alan Ayckbourn, translated by Ehud Manor. Direction and lighting: Leslie Lawton; scenic and costume design: Adrian Vaux.
Alan Ayckbourn's plays are a sophisticated mechanism. Barbara is an aging, obsessive and neurotic spinster (Unfortunately, there is nothing in Hebrew that corresponds exactly to this wonderful English word; I would be very happy if Ehud Manor, who did such a good job on the translation, could find a Hebrew equivalent for "spinster."), who sublets a room in her apartment to an old schoolmate, the childish Nikki, who tends to become involved in relationships in which she is the victim, and Nikki's beau, the charming, divorced and sensitive Scot Hamish. And there is another subtenant, an absurdly kinky widower, Gilbert.
The play starts out as a slightly extreme comedy of manners, swinging sharply into a relationship drama - albeit banal and trite, but also convincing and effective, as when Hamish and Barbara are swept up into an affair at the expense of the jilted Nikki and Gilbert, who is hopelessly in love with Barbara - and from there, when the play is once again swept up into a farce and extreme slapstick in order to reach the happy end (unfortunately, not for all).
While the play is not a masterpiece, as some English critics claim, Ayckbourn has certainly woven a beautifully crafted theater fabric, aided by the outstanding performance, directed by Leslie Lawton (who tends a bit too much to the exaggerated farce for my taste) and the excellent set and costumes by Adrian Vaux (I do have a few, mostly technical, comments to make, but we can leave them for now).
But there is a place where this mechanism, which is based on accomplished craftsmanship, becomes art, and that is the genuine art of acting in general and its representatives in this play.
All do an excellent job of fully executing the comedy and farce, and all have the ability to make the switch to the place that is most painful, each in his or her own unique fashion: Dorit Lev-Ari who moves in an instant from a parody of Barbie on speed to vulnerable cries; Alon Dehan, so captivating with his naive awkwardness and exemplary timing, and Lior Ashkenazi, for whom the transition from extreme comic to simple dramatic acting is more moderate and smooth.
But the evening belongs to Anat Waxman in the role of Barbara, who demonstrates in this role (as in "Nora" or "As You Like It," two of her best roles) her unique quality, characteristic of the greatest actors, to bring the features of the comic figure to the extreme (making excellent use of the deep register of her voice) with admirable skill and the ability to make sudden and sharp switches and radiate warmth and beauty of rare force (end of the first act, and far beyond).
This is the place where the sophisticated mechanism becomes magnificent, where entertainment becomes an artistic experience - the very thing that makes it worthwhile to go to the theater.
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