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A CurtainUp Review
Bahr plays a number of characters who are hanging out in a coffee shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. Much of the production is redolent of Bridge & Tunnel — a comparison that should encourage Sarah Jones fans to head to the Culture Project again (Dai is being performed in the same spot where Bridge & Tunnel's Off-Broadway run took place). Dai is more political, tackling some of the issues facing Israel today, but, like Bridge & Tunnel, it is also very personal. The agendas at hand are approached by way of Bahr's fully-formed characters who all happen to be at this coffee shop.
The premise is this: A BBC reporter who has been covering the Israel-Palestine conflict for months decides to head into a local Tel Aviv spot (the coffee shop) in order to get an Israeli civilian perspective on the conflict. After a number of revealing interviews with a surprisingly international group (no more than a couple Israelis in the bunch), a suicide bomber enters the shop, killing all (or at least most) of the people we have just heard from. I'm not being a spoiler here. Bahr's play structure has us viewing each individual's moment of bomb impact throughout the evening. Each person's life story/interview is interrupted by the explosion. If this sounds like overkill for the viewer, it isn't. It is, however, upsetting.
Though the shock of the bombing sound effect lessens after a number of times, the impact of watching living, breathing, impassioned people from all walks of life and from all political viewpoints, suddenly lose everything, never becomes easier to experience. If anything, each death became harder.
Iris Bahr is not one of those performers whose stage presence is larger than life. She is small and wiry, with pleasant and understated features that compliantly morph from young Latina movie star to older Israeli father. She is a focused actress, commanding the audience members to be active, to draw themselves into the world on stage, rather than to be passively immersed in her characterizations and political soapboxes.
Bahr's collaboration with director Will Pomerantz is a successful one. The stage movements seem to flow from the various personas and nothing comes across as "directed.""
The writing is not aurally overwhelming; instead it is smart, funny, and never unnaturally verbose. The content is tight, and expertly treads the line between sharp and blunted speech. Points of view are subtle and yet not elusive.
I did not walk out of the theater a changed being. Nor did the the play leave me feeling any more or any less pro-Israel or pro-Palestine than I did at the start of the evening. However, I did leave feeling more sensitive to the issues and more affected and emotionally connected to the goings-on of the Middle East than before. Perhaps I will become a little less hardened, or a little less of a desensitized modern day individual. And maybe, just maybe, when I read about the next suicide bomber, I will pay tribute to the innocent lives that were unfairly ended. If so, I will have Iris Bahr to thank.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide