by Anthony Chase
Iris Bahr’s play, Dai, takes place in a Tel Aviv café. An interviewer for CNN talks to each of 10 people in the few minutes before a suicide bomber strikes. One actress plays all 11 roles.
Josie DiVincenzo has taken on this tour de force for the Jewish Repertory Theatre at the Maxine and Robert Seller Theatre in Getzville, and she is marvelous. Her performance of each character is distinct and compelling—young or old, male or female, Israeli or foreign: the reporter, the American actress, the Israeli Kibbutznik, the American expatriate, the lovelorn gay German immigrant, the Russian prostitute, the evangelical Christian from Alabama, the Palestinian university professor, and so forth.
I was intrigued by the purposeful way that Bahr has certain characters interrupted mid-sentence, while others realize, too late, the fate they about to endure. We begin to anticipate the explosion with the foreboding of Hitchcock suspense. And yet, even after the seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th time that we hear the blast, it remains disturbing.
I also admired the way in which the playwright connects the first explosion to the last—they are all, of course, the same explosion—cleverly emphasizing the human connection between the most seemingly disparate people.
Saul Elkin has directed the production. Megan Callahan and Amanda Sharpe served as dialect coaches.
While Ms. DiVincenzo brings equal skill to all of the characters, the bolder roles give her the greatest opportunity to showcase her abilities—the old man, the Israeli mother. Only one character seems to miss the mark—the evangelical from the American South who seems more redneck buffoon than zealot turned businessman. And only one moment disrupts the tension in this play without an intermission, but it is an uncomfortable gaffe that should be corrected immediately—the actress goes offstage to change before the curtain call, awkwardly leaving the audience waiting in the dark to wonder if the play is over or not. She needs to glide into the conclusion effortlessly and immediately.
The characters are selected to provide an array of viewpoints about Israel. The concluding viewpoint, of course, is the one provided over and over again by a character never appears in the play at all, the terrorist himself.
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