BALLAD OF THE BURNING STAR
by Nir Paldi.
BAC (Council Chamber) Lavender Hill SW11 5TN To 8 March 2014.
Runs 1hr 35min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7223 2223.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 19 February.
From glamour to anger –a piece that hits loud, but misses quieter notes.
Recently at Finsbury Park’s Park Theatre there was an attempt to deal with the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians head–on in Omar El-Khairy’s The Keeper of Infinite Space. It opened promisingly but soon foundered on its obsession with state torture, the simulation of which can become wearisome if not offensively easy.
Theatre ad Infinitum’s Ballad of the Burning Star has a very different approach, taking hostages from both sides, summing-up in its title the destruction of bright hopes and wrapping the political attack in camp showbiz trickery. Star is something of a Dame Edna Everage of the Promised Land. Yet the structure’s given a kick when Nir Paldi’s glamorously-attired solo performer introduces her supporting troupe of dancing-girls – whose military-precision kick-steps are combat-ready as a detachment of troops.
Their individual character names (hard to pick-up in the performance) point to their manner, unlike the markedly subdued sole musician, Camp David (the name of the US Presidential residence where peace talks between Israel and Egypt took place from 1978).
There’s plenty of room to describe how Israelis feel in their violent crucible, but also the for dismissive comedy as a catalogue of anti-semitic persecutions down the centuries fades-out while Star suggests we might like a break during the lengthy list. There’s undoubtedly anger, especially at the end when Paldi’s character, who began benignly distributing gold stars to helpful audience members, finally tears-off ‘her’ flowing dress and wig to reveal ‘his’ fury.
It’s doubtless more effusive and effective than a straight-line though the conflict, and the international origins of the cast – fully listed – makes a good point. But in raising the ironic razzamatazz of humour about the deadly situation, it misses on the positive steps shown in B Z Goldberg’s film Promises, which detailed steps by children and parents from both traditions to cross their divide.
No-one should blame Star for not being a documentary, and it will attract audiences by its surface glitter, but nothing in it equals the film’s closing moments as a Palestinian boy reduces the film-maker, and many in the audience, to tears with a simple unselfconscious statement.
Star: Nir Paldi.
Camp David: Pete Aves.
Gidon/Rebellious Rebecca: Orian Michaeli.
Grandmother Evon/Merciless Miriam: Amy Nostbakken.
Eithan/Heartless Hannah: Seiko Nakazawa.
Humi the Dog/Nehama/Lethel Lea: Stefie Sourial.
Ora/Ruthless Rachel: Deborah Pugh.
Director: Nir Paldi.
Designer: Francesco Gorni.
Lighting: Peter Harrison.
Composer/Musical Director: Adam Pleeth.
Costume: Serena Montesissa.
Vocal coach: Tess Dignan.
Dramaturges: Avye Leventis, Mike Tweddle, Omar Elerian.
Associate director: George Mann.
Associate choreographer: Natalie Marsland.