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After the War ~ Mosaic Theater Company of DC

Jordan Wright
March 29, 2016
Special to The Alexandria Times
 

Israeli playwright Motti Lerner’s world premiere production, After the War, is set in the two weeks following the end of the Second Lebanon War which began in July 30, 2006 following an airstrike by the Israeli military on Lebanon’s Hezbollah.  A time of fear, vulnerability and ambiguity by both sides, it hardly mattered who cast the first stone, since good fences don’t necessarily translate into good neighbors, and war comes easier to these eternal enemies.

Paul Morella as Joel and Tonya Beckman as Trudy in After the War at Mosaic Theater Company of DC, March 24-April 17, 2016. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Paul Morella as Joel and Tonya Beckman as Trudy in After. Photo by Stan Barouh.

For Joel (Paul Morella), a world renowned concert pianist, it’s his duty as an artist to speak out.  Unfettered by his country’s jingoist politics, he takes a broader view of war’s toll on humanity, speaking out to anti-war and human rights groups to draw attention to the suffering of those affected – even if it is against his own country.  In this instance he agitates for aid for the Lebanese orphans – a political position unimaginable in Israel.  “The person is also his conscience,” Joel insists.

When he returns after 18-years to make amends to his family for his absence, he is received as a traitor.  Joel has returned to give a concert to raise funds for the orphans and they are determined to undermine it.  Living in Tel Aviv they have endured the wrath and excommunication of neighbors and a government that condemns Joel’s outspoken beliefs.  His brother Freddie (James Whelan) has had his business destroyed and his son Izzy (Guy Kapulnik) has fought in this war and hold an entirely different view based on their war zone experiences.

Tonya Beckman as Trudy and James Whalen as Freddie in After the War at Mosaic Theater Company of DC, March 24-April 17, 2016. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Tonya Beckman as Trudy and James Whalen as Freddie in After the War. Photo by Stan Barouh.

With all the elements of a Greek tragedy that pits brother against brother, mother (Barbara Rappaport) against son, and son against his own son, the story reveals the conflict burning within as each betrays Joel.  It is described in a press release as such, “The play speaks of the artist’s responsibility in an embattled society and illustrates the entrenched divisions between elite cultural purveyors and working class pragmatists; between right-wing and left-wing Israelis: and be extension, between conservative and liberal forces in a divided American Jewish community.”

Paul Morella as Joel and Barbara Rappaport as Bella in After the War at Mosaic Theater Company of DC, March 24-April 17, 2016. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Paul Morella as Joel and Barbara Rappaport as Bella in After the War. Photo by Stan Barouh.

At times Director Sinai Peter’s staging seems over-dramatized, but there is raw passion at hand and a fierce commitment to tell a story of how a family’s faith in one another can be destroyed by war.  Bear in mind too that Lerner, who describes this play as autobiographical, cannot mount this play in his own country where free artistic expression is challenged by the right-wing government.

Tonya Beckman as Trudy and Michael Tolaydo as Bernard in After the War at Mosaic Theater Company of DC, March 24-April 17, 2016. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Tonya Beckman as Trudy and Michael Tolaydo as Bernard in After the War. Photo by Stan Barouh.

An exceptional cast puts this play on the must-see list.

Note: This week Mosaic Theater Company announced an extraordinary one million dollar grant from the Reva and David Logan Foundation, allowing the two-year old company to continue to present its series of groundbreaking plays.

Through April 17th at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002.  For tickets and information call 202 399-7993 ext. 2, or visit www.MosaicTheater.org.

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