Review by Danny Gaisin
As a usually fair-minded critic, I leave any biases at the theatre door. A play about making aliyah & kibbutz settlement in Israel certainly has to have a sympathetic ear from someone who experienced all of that as a nineteen-to 21-year old. Yup, this O.F. was once a Kibbutznik in Galilee, and a grunt with the Israeli Haganah on a West Bank military post!
ATPOL is a dramatic metaphor of the political impasse between both sides of the Middle East conflict paralleled as opinions between two American brothers; one who settled in Judaism’s Promised Land, the other who stayed home & became a successful dentist in Washington State. Their reunion recaps certain attitudinal stalemates and writers Joni Browne-Walders and Mel Weiser bring out the mindsets that are somehow endemic between siblings, and mirrored in related religious philosophies.
Director Ari Weisberg utilizes a rather stark one-room setting for the fraternal reunion, and stage fronts for the non-domicile events. Innovative – but at times a little auditorially difficult. Weisberg offers the play’s progression in a sort of mini-vignette method with short but on-going episodes. News broadcasts act as narrators and plot continuity.
The Israeli farmer is portrayed by Geoff Kolomayz with Tara Nicodemo as his Sabra wife. Together with their engaged daughter – Nicole McCafferty, they are part of the Jewish Gaza settlers who become displaced when the Knesset decided to relocate all Israeli citizens out of the strip and seal the border. Bob Legare is the American brother whose surprise visit brings some extra baggage, and not just in his suitcases. McCafferty shows the most dramatic intensity and exhibits an almost fanatic bent in her character depiction. Nicodemo manages to capture the dynamism and fortitude of 2nd generation Israelis that I remember and hoped to emulate as a fearless and almost superman teenager. Unfortunately, there is no chemistry; negative or positive, between Legare and Kolomayz. I may have been an only child, but I DID witness the sibling love/hate relationships of all my friends…none of this seems displayed on stage. The second act leans heavily on both conflicts being interpreted, with some rather unsubtle hints as to who is right & wrong. One jarring note; when Nicodemo states that Moslem mothers also must want peace for their own children…I kept mentally recalling so many instances wherein Arab maternal parents show such pleasure on the martyrdom of their offspring suicide bombers!
Theatre TEATRON is in its ninth year of productions and has scheduled a comedy about the secular/religious paradigm, for its next offering at the end of February. “A TINY PIECE” is at the Toronto Centre for the Arts until Jan 15th. 416-733-0545