South African playwright Victor Gordon’s play is set in contemporary Tel Aviv. Ya’akov is a brilliant young Israeli composer who causes a storm when he announces his intention to play a Wagner work in the final of an international,music competition.
Morris, the competition’s organiser, advises the concert’s patron, Esther, of the situation, and she is appalled. Jewish and a Holocaust survivor, she can’t believe that a fellow Jew living in the homeland of the Jewish people, would even consider playing a work by a German composer who was a renowned anti-semite.Esther insists on confronting him in the hope that she can make him change his mind.
What is driving Ya’Akov to want to play Wagner? Will Esther be able to change his mind? Will the competition final go ahead? What would the reaction be in Tel Aviv if such a heresy was to be committed? These are some of the questions that we, the audience, want the play to answer.It’s an intriguing scenario, and the play, mainly, fulfills its promise. It’s a classic, compelling battle of wills narrative. It’s a tug of war between the generations; the older generation refusing to let go of the horrors of the past and wanting these horrors embedded in our conscience, and the young generation wanting to let go of the past, and have a more open, accommodating way of looking at the world.
Moira Blumenthal’s production serves the play well. Hugh O’Connor’s period set and costume design and Mic Gruchy’s video design – the production had a significant multi=media component- worked well.
Annie Byron gives a very sympathetic performance as Esther, as does Benedict Wall who is compelling as the young Israeli musician who wants to make a stand and turn people’s heads around.
Two fine actors, Tim McGarry as Morris and Kate Skinner as Miri are a little under utilised in roles that fail to provide much depth.
Verdict. Victor Gordon’s play made for good drama. One just felt that it was a little marred by an ending which sees the playwright choose one side. It might have been better to let audience members work out which way they lean.