Opening Rocks

Another excellent night at the theater. Another rock n roll opening. Not to take these for granted. But it’s our 3rd in a row, maybe even 4th. And you don’t always know how the reviews will shake down. We’ve gotten a rave already. We’ll excerpt from it below (it’s a bit helter-skelter in its discussion of the actors… No need to post helter-skelter comments about fabulous actors.) Four critics didn’t show, or called in advance to say they couldn’t make it. The Washington Times, City Paper, Washingtonian and Variety missed it. Missed a spectacularly strong performance. I hope we don’t miss an entire week’s rotation with them. Their deadlines to submit for next July 5th publication is monday, so they’ll need to see the show this weekend. If they don’t, a review won’t come out until 10 days before we close. Fortunately for us, other strong critics were there. We’re proud of the show they saw. We’ll see what they say. I’m feeling very proud of this production under the leadership of director Sinai Peter. He spoke beautifully last night after the show at the reception together with Tamar Mayer from the Embassy of Israel.

Here are my pre-show comments. read more

“Before we begin, we salute our friends from the Embassy of Israel, and in particular, their Director of Cultural Affairs, Tamar Mayer, her predecessor Orit Naor, and our dear friend and cultural ambassador in the Foreign Ministry, Ophra Ben Yakov, for making possible the residencies of our 5 Israeli artists involved with this production. We’ll look forward to hearing from our friends at the Embassy at our reception following the show.

A word about this most incredible American-Israeli collaboration. We believe we’re adding an important dimension to the cultural interchange between our two countries. For all the difficult issues raised by this play, we believe there’s a very positive message emerging here, in spite of the bitter medicine; the unflinching look at troubles in our community. This production affirms the values of an Israel committed to democratic values, self-expression and self-reflection, correction, and a faith in the process of human betterment through the making of art.

In that same spirit of dilaogue, we invite you to come back and take part in post-show conversations convening after every performance, and on Sunday afternoons with panel discussions, including this Sunday July 1 when author Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker Magazine moderates a panel entitled “What Jews Say About Arabs and what Arabs Say About Jews” with a distinguished list of participants.

This play is part of our “Voices from a Changing Middle East Festival” which will include new works performed on this stage in conjunction with the Capital Fringe Festival. Those new works include, ARIEL SHARON HOVERS BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH AND DREAMS OF THEODOR HERZL, CHASING JUSTICE/SEEKING TRUTH by Aaron Davidman, and a staged reading of NOOR, by Dr. Akbar Ahmed. Join us for that and 4 other offerings.”

Oh, and here’s the important stuff from Bob Anthony’s review in allartsreview4u.com

“In a perfect Jewish settlement setting by Kinereth Kisch and very tight and effective directing by Sinai Peter, Theater J’s production of “Pangs of the Messiah” always allows the audience to emotionally feel the volatile and dangerous situation that still exists in Israel as projected into 2012. The acting is first rate by this cast of nine -[sic] players. One almost feels that they all spent a month in a West Bank settlement to prepare for the production. Laura Giannarelli does her finest work yet…dropping all of her usual stage gimmicks…as the determined yet caring mother. Alexander Strain is excellent in body language and attitude as the slightly “garden variety” retard [sic]. Norman Aronovic shows effective pathos as the misunderstood father and instigator with probably the most emotionally driven scene in the playing. Michael Tolaydo is matchless in his continuing fine acting in local productions…..

What is to be learned from this highly dramatic play is that, until micro-familial agreements can be realized, there will not be macro-political and ethnic agreements forthcoming. The playwright, Motti Lerner, finely covers the conflicts of present day Jewish/Palestinian residents in the Middle East as projected into 2012. And he is pessimistic in his thinking that suggested present day agreements will be any more effective in the future until basic and necessary universal peace attitudes can be realized. Even the atrocious attitude of combatants that school children and women should be involved in protest and fighting and death is horrendous…as are those same faulty interpretations of respective holy books that allow single suicide bombers to kill and maim dozens to gain his/her own selfish rewards in an afterlife. So this playwright offers minimal hope for the future.

Theater J is truly a beacon on the Washington theater scene in balancing cultural, ethnic and political arguments regarding peace and war and communal living. Ari Roth and his theatrical colleagues deserve a humanitarian award for their efforts [sic]. This is a highly recommended show for its emotional and intellectual look at any conflict situation.” (To 7/29) (Reviewed by Bob Anthony)

Now who knows what [sic] really means?

more soon