Three women stand on a platform, suitcase in hand, awaiting the train to the famous Czech spa Marienbad. The year is 1911 – a time of long skirts, and long hand-written letters – a time long gone. “No Little Bird Shall Know” by Ori Egoz, is a witty, elegantly conceived play that evokes the atmosphere Jewish life in Europe of the early 20th century. A loving tribute to the era and its writers, such as Shalom Aleichem, the play recreates the language, style, social hierarchy and customs of the times with a knowing wink to contemporary audiences.
A symbol of status as well as a statement of personal style, one immediately identifies the characters by their clothing. The slender elegance of Goldy Sendak in her black and white striped skirt and suit, complemented by a sleek cigarette, and a thin smile that somewhat resembles a sneer, newlywed Hindie’s youthful, yet unsophisticated bloom bourgeoning out in white ruffles, and Feygie, with her comic brand of no frills, earthy common sense and simple black skirt.
Yet then as now, appearances conceal as much as they reveal. Just as the ingeniously designed black and white suitcases – the baggage they carry – contain hidden compartments and delightful surprises, beneath the polite conversation and many layers of modest clothing are the wishes, hopes and dreams of three women. Each from a different social sphere, each with her secrets, brought together by circumstance in this comedy of errors.
Egoz has an ear for the nuances of this world, and the dialogue is light and lively. Under the surface of ever so proper conversation, even referring to themselves and one another in the third person, there is a minefield of sharp criticisms, competitiveness, petty jealousies, and conniving schemes – and all of it, very, very funny. Goldy Sendak (Sveta Falk), the wife of a wealthy merchant, comes to Marienbad every year, but lest one think she is self-indulgent, she says, “Am I going there for pleasure? Will I enjoy myself there? Goodness, no! I am only going there for my health.” The she lights up a cigarette.
The three talented actresses are excellent foils for one another as the plot brings them together in unexpected ways. Each embodies her role to perfection. Text, design and terrific acting work together beautifully, in this stylish, entertaining production with a bitter-sweet scent of the past.
For a taste of things to come, a few scenes on YouTube:
Upcoming performances of “No Little Bird Shall Know” at the Tmuna Theatre, 8 Soncino Street, Tel Aviv on June 22 at 20:00, and June 29 at 20:30. Duration: 1 ½ hours. Tickets: 65 NIS, 03-5611211.
Directed by Ori Egoz
Performed by: Sveta Falk, Hila Friedman, Betty Kushchi
Original music: Yasmeen Even
Arrangement: Naama Redler
Movement: Noam Hameiri, Ori Egoz
Illustration, Set and Props Design: Maureen Freidman
Costume Design: Aya Ziger
Lighting: Amichai Elharar
Video Design: Ilana Loyt
Assistant Director: Shaharit Yerushalmi
This production was made possible through the support of the Israel Festival, Payis Committee for Art and Culture, Sholem Aleichem House and Mada Publishing.