Seldom has a standing ovation been more richly deserved or more hard-earned than the one that greeted Bobbie Steinbach at the end of last evening's performance of William Gibson's powerful play, "Golda's Balcony." For 95 minutes, Golda Meir paced the levels of Jiyoung Han's minimal multi-level set, telling her story, chain smoking cigarettes as she ruminated on her remarkable life and career. The program claims that it was Bobbie Steinbach, but she so fully embodied the former Israel Prime Minister that it felt as if Meir had returned from beyond the grave to the Mosesian Center for the Arts - much like Grandmother Tzeitel did in Tevye's dream earlier this season. The irrepressible and multi-talented Steinbach delivered a tour de force performance that illuminated the manifold message that the playwright sought to engender using the life of Mrs. Meir as a case study in the costs of leadership, passion and the cost of turning idealism into power. Judy Braha provides solid direction, enabling the actor to stay in motion, using all of the stage and keeping the audience fully engaged.
|Bobbie Steinbach as Golda Meir|
"Golda's Balcony" by William Gibson
New Rep Theatre
Mosesian Center for the Arts
Through April 16th
Photo by Andrew Brilliant / Brilliant Pictures
The playwright provides an unblinking look at this complex woman. This is no fawning hagiography. In her own words, Meir describes the many costs of devoting her life to creating and preserving a Jewish state. She sacrificed her marriage and time with her children. The idealist socialist ended up as a hard-as-nails negotiator on the world stage staring down Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, forcing them to provide U.S. military support against Egypt and its four neighbors that were intent on wiping out Israel.
The balcony in the play's title is actually two balconies. The first is one from which Golda was able to look down on the pacific panorama of the Eastern Mediterranean; the second was a subterranean perch from which Golda peered into the bowels of hell and Armageddon at Israel's nascent nuclear capabilities being built.
The playwright invites us to ponder three questions that have relevance to our present geopolitical dilemmas:
- Golda Meir dreamed of a Paradise. What went wrong?
- "To save a world you create . . . how many worlds are you entitled to destroy?
- "What happens when idealism becomes power?"
The play will run through April 16th. You do not want to miss this production and this egregiously good performance by Ms. Steinbach. It will be well remembered during next Award Season.
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Enjoy! and Shalom!