The Cameri Theatre will premiere The Tank, a play written by Yoav Shoten-Goshen and Irad Rubinstein, based on the novel of the same name by Assaf Inbari. Directed by Irad Rubinstein, the play is about five men with memories and stories of the War of Independence of 1948. Each of these five men, whom Rubinstein describes as representing “five different threads in this rope we call the Israeli story”, believes and claims that he was the one to stop the Syrian tank from entering Kibbutz Degania and save the day. Their belief is sincere, and the story has accompanied them over the years, impacting the trajectory of each man’s life. The play looks at these men twenty-five years after that crucial moment, during the Yom Kippur War, a time when many myths were shattered.
The Cameri presented one of these stories this morning, in the rehearsal room, without the benefit of a set or wings. Although those elements contribute to the magic of the theatre, the scene presented this morning was so powerful that I did not feel that anything was lacking, so riveted was I by the actor’s performance. Yoav Levi portrays a kibbutz member who sees his moment of glory in battle as a guide for life and is intent on passing the legacy on to his teenage son Shabi, portrayed by Dolev Ohana. Yet he is also very proud of his son’s achievements in chess tournaments. The text is so precise and grounded in experience – the language, relationships and culture of Israel in general, and the micro-culture of the military. The characters are well-drawn and both actors embody them so entirely and naturally, conveying the essence of the father-son relationship in just one brief scene. Then, as the next scene takes place several years later, Ohana sheds the awkwardness of youth, for the confidence of a young man; while Levi, as the father, goes through significant changes of his own.
Most striking to me was the fact that despite the absence of a set, the play has a very strong physicality that conveys the experiences depicted in a very visceral way, communicating with the audience through sensory association. For example, the shoes and legs of the father, his wife, and their son were covered in mud. As this was just an excerpt from a play that is still officially in rehearsal, I won’t attempt to interpret, yet this kind of visual information sends the mind on journeys of association.
The Tank tells a quintessentially Israeli story. Yet it also reflects on more general issues of identity, memory, and the stories that shape our lives. The scenes I saw this morning were suspenseful, moving, and thought-provoking – I’m looking forward to seeing more.
The Tank will premiere at the Cameri Theatre on February 18, 2022.
Additional information may be found on the Cameri Theatre website. https://www.cameri.co.il/eng
By Yoav Shoten-Goshen and Irad Rubinstein, based on the novel The Tank by Assaf Inbari
Director: Irad Rubinstein; Cast: Micha Selektar, Nadav Asulin, Yoav Levi, Dudu Niv, Simha Barbiro, Moran Arviv Gance, Sean Mongoza, Tal Weiss, Dolev Ohana, Gal Seri.