Doing the right thing will always start a war. In a time plagued with controversy, a thought-provoking intensely profound new work comes out of Theater J’s ‘Voices From A Changing Middle East Festival‘ as they collaborate with Georgetown University to mount Boged(Traitor): An Enemy of the People to the stage. Directed by Joseph Megel, this fast-paced high intensity production is Nir Erez and Boaz Gaon’s (translated into English by Gaon) adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People. Evoking controversial conversation with this production, the company brings an awe-inspiring tale of politics, family and the crusade of truth and justice to the stage in a tightly-packed 110 minutes of continuous drama.
Scenic Designer Robbie Hayes keeps it simple letting the actors speak for themselves; though as the play progresses and the rift in the family grows — the stage does split apart like an earthquake rocking the show at its foundation, reflecting the poison beneath in a symbolic representation of the literal and metaphorical poison that infects the play. Sound Designer Veronica J. Lancaster in conjunction with Lighting Designer Brian S. Allard create the rest of the scene for the audience, grounding them in the reality of this small town in the middle east. Lancaster sets the mood before the audience arrives with modern Israeli rap and hiphop music, later adding the sounds of a war-torn street while aircrafts zoom overhead, indicating the nearby military base. The Design Team as a whole draws you deeply into this intricately crafted space, easily alerting your senses to the conflict of the present situation.
Director Joseph Megel manages to keep the production tight. The scenes move quickly without feeling rushed, the dialogue has a rapid-fire speed without feeling hasty and still managing to be understood, and the scene changes are flawlessly fast. Zipping through them in 15 seconds or less Megel never gives the audience a moment to lose sight of this breakneck drama as it boils to an explosion at its conclusion.
Michael Tolaydo, Blair Bowers, and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh. Photo by Stan Barouh.
The characters crafted in this production are rich dynamic people that have complex personalities, emotions, and conflicts. Everyone has a reactionary side, bristling against one another causing volts of static drama to erupt between them. It’s an exhilarating play to watch, each of the actors gripping and compelling as they work their way through to a stunning and deeply profound ending.
Theater Review: “Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of the People” at Theater JThe company collaborates with Georgetown University on the contemporary update of Ibsen’s drama. By Missy Frederick
Published January 16, 2013
Bringing Ibsen to Israel results in a sense of urgency and modern relevance for Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of the People. Boaz Gaon and Nir Erez have kept the characters, themes, and major events of Henrik Ibsen’s original work, but the new setting, fresh dialogue, and contemporary sensibility of Boged, originally produced by Israel’s Beersheva Theatre and now staged by Theater J in collaboration with Georgetown University, results in a significant—and successful—reworking of the classic.
The unapologetic Dr. Tommy Doany (Michael Tolaydo) is still facing off against both his politician brother, Simon (Brian Hemmingsen), and big corporations, in this case embodied by the looming Ekstein Industries (the show smartly starts off with a public relations video for Ekstein that feels like something BP might produce, broadcast on the minimalist set’s sleek window that doubles as a multimedia screen). One of Ekstein’s factories in the Southern Israeli desert has a chemical leak that could wreak havoc on the area’s water supply. It’s clear that this is bad news for the company and for the politicians who have supported them. But will the surrounding residents accept the news and take action at a time when the Arab Spring is fueling unrest and activism in general?
Not unlike Ibsen’s original, Boged has the tendency to be didactic, but the actors do a fine job of selling even the most heavy-handed of dialogue, directed most capably byJoseph Megel. To keep reading, click here