Slacking 'oPfffff'

From the festival that is supposed to represent the avant guard in theater, we get 'Pfffff,' a play no more creative than your average television show.

I did not attend this year's Acco Festival for Alternative Theater, but when I heard the play that won first place was coming Tel Aviv’s Tzavta Theater, I was eager make up for my cultural blind spot. I came, watched, and left rather shocked. Someone here slacked off. If this play received the top honors in a festival that’s supposed explore novel expressions in drama, I dare not imagine what the other plays, which did not win awards, were like. I am shocked with the judges who deemed “Pfffff” worthy such attention.

Pfffff is a farce based on the classic film “Dr. Strangelove.” An Israeli submarine commander loses it and launches a nuclear missile strike at Iran on his own accord. The prime minister, defense minister and top brass are a cast of miserable, petty characters. In other words, what we got is an unoriginal idea and a hardly developed one at that. The first hour, filled jokes and jabs, was worthy of Habima's "War Ministers," one of the worst plays ever staged in Israeli mainstream theatre. And here we learn the Acco Festival for Alternative Theater too can produce a pointless television sketch.

It fail to compel, to jolt you as a realistic scenario. The soldiers and leaders are caricatures lacking one bit of originality and they fail to evoke any interest. The directing is amateur, there’s a lot of noise, and the stage is a mess - the submarine is in the background and above the stage, and the government’s conference table is up front. The actors do their best: Icho Avital is funny as a prime minister standing on a whirling chair in his underpants and raising a glass (because the nuclear missile didn't go off in the end and WWIII was averted. That is, the play didn't even offer an apocalyptic climax). The audience at Tzavta laughed as if it were watching high quality entertainment. Though I’m in the minority, I steadfastly maintain that if a play lacking originality or any special achievement beyond the lower average level of television entertainment wins the first prize in the alternative festival, something is very wrong in the artistic and professional standards of the festival in Acre. Either that or somebody was slacking off, letting the theater and the audience down.

Incubator Theater presents Pfffff. Written & directed by: Aharon Levin & Yaron Edelstein. Set & costume design: Adam Keler. Lighting design: Jake Sliv. Inspired by “Dr. Strangelove” (Stanley Kubrick) and “Fail-Safe” (Sidney Lumet).

The War Room in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film 'Dr. Strangelove.'Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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