Tel Horef, directed by Michael Kramenko, opens with a wonderfully whimsical premise: it is the year 2025 and Tel Aviv is now covered with snow. Instead of cats, there are now penguins roaming the icy beaches. Quirky, funny, and poignant, the play is a Hebrew version of John Cariani’s Almost Maine, a series of short plays on love and loss, taking place over the course of one night. Shahar Segal’s version gracefully transposes places (the program even features a map showing where in Tel Aviv each scene takes place), language, and local culture, with songs in Hebrew making it all feel like home.
The set, designed by Michael Kramenko, is at once simple, imaginative, and pliable, by turns elegant and humorous, changing the mood in each scene. Most striking – sets of three circles on a beam, with a minimalist deco feel to them, that shift from horizontal to vertical, move up and down, creating a multitude of images – from planes in flight, to dryers (that actually open up with clothes inside) in a laundromat. Most fun are the props in the “Getting it Back”* vignette, but this lovely metaphor is one best discovered on one’s own. Excellent performances by an ensemble cast that takes on different roles throughout the play, allow the viewer to enter the stories with empathy for the characters, however brief their sojourn on the stage. Set, costumes, music, and movement, merge with a fast-paced and clever text to create a comic and sometimes bittersweet depiction of the many hues of love.
The compelling quality of these stories is the way they take you by surprise. Drifting along in a humorous scene, suddenly, there’s a tug at the heart strings… One of these unexpected shifts, was in the “They Fell” scene, as performed by Eldad Prives and Ido Mosseri. The movement language, a strong element throughout the show choreographed by Prives, was exceptionally eloquent here, creating one of the play’s most moving scenes.
Tel Horef (When Winter Comes)
Play by John Cariani; Hebrew version: Shahar Segal; Director and Set Designer: Michael Kramenko; Music: Loren de Paz; Costume Design: Oren Dar; Light Design: Nadav Barnea; Stage movement: Eldad Prives; Sound Design: Michael Vaisburd; Voice and Speech: Yonny Lucas; Vocal: Doki Tazmon; Assistant Director: Yulia Tagil; Ido Mosseri, Carmel Candel, Dor Michaeli, Noa Ar-Zion, Eldad Prives, Yana Adamovsky, Lena Reutova, Pavel Davidovich.
Information on show dates and times may be found on the Gesher Theatre website.
*For clarity, I’ve referenced the English titles of the vignettes.