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A CurtainUp Review
One of a Kind
Many of these Ethiopian Jews had dreamed for generations of returning to Israel. But despite famine, disease and growing anti-Semitism, they were fearful and reluctant to leave. In One of a Kind, AndArgay (now Yossi Vassa) tells the true story of how he and his family left their home in Ethiopia, journeyed by foot the 440 miles to refugee camps in Sudan and waited, starving and helpless until they were finally flown to Israel. He wrote the play with Israeli actor and television TV writer Shai Ben Attar, who also directs.
Originally produced by Nephesh Theatre, for the Haifa International Children's Theatre Festival in 2005, the show is now making its U.S. premiere, in English at the New Victory Theater. Vassa plays himself as a ten-year-old boy who likes to draw but isn't very fond of school where he is singled out as foreign and Jewish. He lives with his father, Asmamo (Shai Fredo), his mother, Masi (Mahareta Baruch), his older sister, Yeshitu (Sky Gete) and his beloved grandmother (Tehitina Assefa). Set designer Alexander Sasha Lesansky artfully and impressionistically creates their home with wooden logs and lights.
Yeshitu wants to marry Isaac (Roy Zaddok), but Isaac has heard about Operation Moses and is determined to go to Israel. Asmano resists. He's tried this before, and it ended only in sorrow. But Grandmother wants to see Eretz Israel before she dies and convinces the family to put its trust in God.
Told through the eyes of AndArgay, a charming and creative child, One of a Kind incorporates music, dance and video. But what is most fascinating is the way it melds Jewish and African traditions of family, song, dance and storytelling. And it does all this in a way that is always accessible to children. (Ages 10 and up recommended).
If the play doesn't delve too deeply into complex emotional states, politics or the causes and effects of anti-Semitism, it is certainly filled with compassion and humor, and it has enough substance to keep adults engaged. In other words One of a Kind is perfect family entertainment.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
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Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide