Prolific Melbourne Jewish playwright Ron Elisha’s ‘Certificate Of Life’ received a staged reading at the Monkey Baa Theatre in Darling Harbour on Friday August 28th by Moira Blumenthal Productions (Australia’s premiere Jewish theatre company) its Second Stage program. Moira put the sound recording of the play online so I caught the play, as it were, in a radio play format.
This Elisha play, a three hander, as yet unperformed in Australia, had a very successful season in Israel, playing for over two years at the Cameri Theatre, one of the main theatres in Tel Aviv.
Clara Reich is the play’s main character, a woman now in her eighties, a Holocaust survivor, who lost most of her family n the Second World War. Her second marriage has broken down and she is now living with her daughter Hilda. They have a very fractured relationship.
Evert year, as it comes up to Clara’s birthday she has to go to the German Consul’s office and. provide a Certificate Of Life to confirm that she is still alive and so that she can still get her German pension. It is something that she is deeply resentful of having to do.
Clara goes with Hilda to the German consulate and a woman named Heidi attends them. There’s an issue with Clara providing a different date of birth to the one on file and Heidi tells her that she’ll have to come back again. Clara pours out her venom on Heidi. To her, all Germans are tarred with the same brush and she just can’t forgive them. Hilda is embarrassed by her mum’s behaviour.
The main thing about Elisha’s play is that is very relatable. The elderly Holocaust survivor still carrying the bitterness of the Holocaust with her, her daughter wishing she could just move on a. little, their unhealthy possessive relationship, the German official whohas no dark secrets and is just trying to do a good job.
The staged reading was performed very well with Moira Blumenthal directing and featuring a cast including Valerie Bader, Sandie Eldridge and Kate Skinner.
Hopefully, this touching and powerful Elisha play will soon receive a mainstage production.