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Home-sick by Dafna Rubinstein
Last uploaded : Thursday 18th Aug 2005 at 00:57
Contributed by : Carol Gould


'Home-sick,' written and directed by Dafna Rubinstein, has the potential for a major theatrical achievement. It explores the relationship between an Israeli soldier , Yoav, and his parents from the point of view of his ghost. He has been killed by friendly fire in an ambush. As so poignantly depicted in the film ?Ghost,? the dead man visits his girlfriend, Rona, but cannot communicate with her as she is interrogated by an army reporter. The misery of the political situation in Israel, and unnatural life led by its youth -- all of whom, male and female, ?do army? -- has taken its toll on Yoav?s parents.

Anyone who follows Israeli history knows that in recent years shelters for women have begun to proliferate across the country; in one scene Yoav is so overcome with stress that he strikes Rona. In turn, the confrontations between his parents, Shalom and Sera, are a side effect of the endless cycle of uncertainty and violence in the tiny nation, along with Shalom?s alcoholism.

What is so heartbreaking about this moving and well-written effort is that it is, to put it bluntly, unfinished. What possessed the New End Theatre to shorten the play (the programme says the duration is ninety minutes but my watch indicated a mere sixty-five) in order to bring on a comedy routine afterwards is beyond comprehension.

Thirty-five years ago, in the heady days of the Royal Court, Stratford East and other great theatre companies, this script would have been developed and nurtured until it had reached the perfection it deserves.

The other tragedy is that the British public, force-fed generations of biased and distorted coverage of Israel in the media, will likely never attend such a play and it will perform to an audience of sympathetic supporters. The play needs to be written up to a full-length, two-act professional piece and could be a major event in the United States.

What a sad commentary it is on European culture that one suspects this subject matter -- a play that shows the agony of every Israeli family -- could likely never get a mainstream backer on this side of the ocean but that it would certainly have a life in the USA.

The performances are outstanding: Raquel Roylance as Sera has an ethereal quality that is searingly painful as she works through her grief by dwelling in denial. Roylance is a natural successor to Meryl Streep. Grant Orviss as Yoav is a powerful presence as is Steve Anstee as Shalom, with fine work from James Turpin as the reporter and Gemma Boaden as Rona. The dance and music element is unnecessary : let?s get writing again, Miss Rubenstein, and fill those minutes with a rich script that has a beginning, middle and end and that could tell the story of Israel in an evening of unforgettable theatre.

'Home-sick' at the New End Theatre, London NW3
Box office 0870 033 2733
Telephone 020 7388 2555
Fax 020 7794 4044
Email info@newendtheatre.co.uk

running until 28 August 2005.



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