by Philip Himberg adapted from the film by Tomer Heymann.
Tricycle Theatre 269 Kilburn High Road NW6 7JR To 13 April 2013.
Mon-Sat 8pm Mat Wed 2pm Sat 3pm.
Audio-described 19 March.
Captioned 9 April.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7328 1000.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 March.
Humanity blossoming amid state security like flowers on a bombsite.
A sudden shocked reaction from the audience that’s unlikely to happen again. Clearly deeply-felt, it came in response to Indhu Rubasingham, director of this show and Artistic Director of the Tricycle, in a post-show discussion when someone asked what had happened to the five real-life Paper Dolls, the Filippino men who moved to Israel – specifically Tel Aviv – as carers (because of their religion, Orthodox Jewish men requiring close attention cannot be touched by women) and set up a drag-act cabaret on their day off. Rubasingham reported the bleak fate of one. And that reaction showed how keenly the character, and its performer, had registered during the play.
Or, show. Calling it a musical would tip the emphasis wrongly, but there are notable songs and a couple of sensational dances (which still allow that the Dolls are part-time amateurs). In one they’re dressed as Japanese geishas, a stereotypical image insisted on by a commercial promoter; the other shows their individuality. For they contain divergent personalities, including two brother unable to agree on anything.
Most, happily, are living and working in London as carers, and their occasional performances might increase if this show travels beyond the Trike. It’s based on Tomer Heymann’s documentary film, and camera-toting Yossi stands-in for him, with a Doll or two taking control to put their own view. But whatever it says about film–maker and filmed, the main contrast is between the stern law-and-order of a society under threat from bombers, and the humanity of the work-permit carers.
To see Francis Yue’s concerned Sally cheer old Chaim, who has terminal cancer affecting his speech, or fellow Dolls entertain him when Sally’s detained, is worth the mind-switch from standard British dramatic scepticism, ever ready with the pepper-spray allegation of sentimentality. And Sally’s devoted work earns the urgency of Caroline Wildi as Chaim’s daughter, asserting her position as an Israeli citizen (albeit resident in America) with the police, as anxiety for her father expands to concern for Sally herself.
It’s true, the first act takes a long time to cohere, but the payoff is well worth the wait.
Yossi: Tom Berish.
Yael: Suzanne Bertish.
Ester/Ensemble: Noa Bodner.
Chaim: Harry Dickman.
Chiqui: Ron Domingo.
Nazari/Ensemble: Ilan Goodman.
Ensemble: Shimi Goodman, Tom Oakley.
Sally: Francis Jue.
Zhan: Angelo Paragoso.
Jiorgio: Jon Norman Schneider.
Adina: Caroline Wildi.
Cheska: Benjamin Wong.
Director: Indhu Rubasingham.
Designer: Richard Kent.
Lighting: Oliver Fenwick.
Sound/Music: Ben and Max Ringham.
Music: Nigel Lilley,
Video: Dick Straker.
Choreographer: Alistair David.
Voice/Dialect coach: Richard Ryder.
Fight director: Rachel Bown Williams of Rc-Annie.
Assistant director: Sam Pritchard.