BWW Review: LISELOTTE IN MAY at Habima Theater

BWW Review: LISELOTTE IN MAY at Habima Theater

"Will I ever find love?"
"May I be alone in the world?"
"When will death come?"

These are the questions that the play Liselotte in May by Zsolt Pozsgai and the director Alon Openhaim wrestles with in this comedy-drama about a young lady whose tragic efforts to find a partner reveal the absurdities in the process.

There are two actors, with the male actor playing seven roles. A lonely woman in her thirties, Liselotte, realizes that the years are passing by without a partner, and desperately tries to get herself a man by various means. Through no fault of her own, each of her prospective partners dies on the first date.

The play has an excellent premise: many in the audience will likely see themselves in the questions raised within. We all felt that love would never be found; we all do not know when death will come; and we all hope to never have to answer the question if we will be ready, in this moment, to die...
I think Openhaim did a good job overall - and I might even daresay amazing with parts of this performance. His players' guidance was excellent, and the Hebrew version of the play (which I shall expand on later) was fantastic.

My problem with the play was with the technical side. For example, during the show I was able to see the reactions of several people in the audience because the lighting designer appeared not to notice that four flashlights were projecting onto the audience. By the middle-end of the play he seemed to recognize the mistake and abruptly lowered the power.

In general, the design of the lighting that Shai Skiba created was basic, and besides dazzling me with the intensity of the flashlights and lighting up people in the audience, I didn't understand what the lighting was trying to convey. I was accompanied to the performance with someone familiar with lighting design, and she also did not understand the decision-making process with regard to the lighting of this play.

BWW Review: LISELOTTE IN MAY at Habima Theater

Yoav Donat plays all the male characters who visit Liselotte - seven characters in all during a show of about ninety minutes. Most of the characters Donat plays with a wonderful and fascinating effect; a few, however, I felt were approached with less energy. During some points of the performance the combination of several characters appeared to mesh together, which made it challenging to distinguish which specific figure was currently on the stage. In spite of this, Yoav Donat's range fascinated me.

Liselotte is played by Tamar Hannah Shtaierman, who remains in one character throughout. This understandably makes her character less intriguing than those played by Donat. Even so, Liselotte is a difficult figure to crack. Until the middle of the show nothing new is revealed in her character. Finally, in the middle of the performance, it all opens up: the disappointment of death, the pain, and desire for love all come together to reveal her image in a different light. This makes her character become more interesting as a different side of her is shared.

I felt that a few things were perfectly-done with this play, like the charming set design by Tut Herbet, and the flowing translated version of the play, handled expertly by Tamar Hannah Shtaierman. It is not easy to translate plays from other languages into Hebrew - their magic is often lost - but in Liselotte in May, thanks to the work of Tamar Hannah Shtaierman, some Israeli charm is added to the overall picture.

Photo Credit: Rafi Delouya.
For tickets and further information, visit Habima Theatre.

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