Theater / Oh Yes, It Was Worth It

I know this sounds strange, but I really love theater, and "The Dresser" - about a wandering troupe that performs Shakespeare at any price, a lead actor who is in love with himself and his role on stage and in the world and about his faithful dresser, his wife - is really the production for me.

"The Dresser," by Ronald Harwood at the Cameri Theater, translated and directed by Micah Lewensohn; sets and costumes by Ruth Dar; music by Eldad Lidor; lighting by Amir Brenner

I know this sounds strange, but I really love theater, and "The Dresser" - about a wandering troupe that performs Shakespeare at any price, a lead actor who is in love with himself and his role on stage and in the world and about his faithful dresser, his wife - is really the production for me.

This is a play about the miserable love of people who devoted their lives to theater, knowing that it will not make them happy (usually the opposite is the case) but ultimately, and despite everything, as the stage manager says, in pain, "Yes, it was worth it."

This is also a play about how all that is left of the play and the theater is the memory. This is its "life." And it is no coincidence that the only title the actor in this play can find for his autobiography is "My Life," and all that he manages to write is the dedication, in which he forgets the person who really loved him. And here is what I remember about this play.

The careful translation and the precise and calculated work of Micah Lewensohn, with inventions like a shadow-play curtain through which the audience in the hall sees the play as it is performed before another audience, at another time and place, and the cinematic accompaniment by a soundtrack (a trademark of Lewensohn's works, and the music here was written by Eldad Lidor). The set, both inventive and simple, of the dressing room and the innards of the stage is by Ruth Eldar, as are the excellent costumes.

But the main thing is the actors, of course. The cast here on the stage is excellent, including Avraham Palta and Uri Zaguri, who donate only their voices and their silhouettes, Dudu Ben Ze'ev and, above all, Yosef Carmon, who is strongly felt in the role of the supporting actors, as well as the charming Ulla Schatzor as Irene; Shiri Golan, heartbreaking in her "square" restraint as the stage manager and Sarah Von Schwarze as the Lady, noble in the full sense of the word.

Harwood gives each of the characters moments of grace, and every such moment is another constituent of the painful and loving statement about the theater.

And the high point: Yitzhak Hezkiah in the role of the dresser, nursemaid and disappointed lover of the leading actor, in wonderful work with voice and body and character, from the irony to the erupting anger.

And all this in a thankless role alongside the star Oded Teomi as the actor, childish and temperamental, down to earth and fantastical. At moments during the first act it seemed to me that all this was not coming together into a whole character, but this occurred in the second act when Teomi, as the actor, heaps scorn on the miserable critics. And right after that my heart went out to him during moments he spoke about acting Lear and seeing himself, and it seemed as if Teomi was acting and seeing himself. This and other moments of theatrical greatness that remain in the memory are a hymn to this unrequited love for the theater.