AYEKA? | 2009
In 12 tales we dance and sing
It all occurs within a ring
We ask the heavens sigh and moan
Is he here or is he gone?
A musical theatrical event about Israeli insanity
Thirteen local tales, presented in song and verse. Among them: the story of a Jewish butt that finds salvation in abstract art, the story of Suha and Fahid who wait for the stork at a checkpoint, one boy Ahmed's dream of embracing virgins in heaven, and the story of little Hen Hen, who receives a big gift from daddy for her birthday. The template for "Ayeka?" is drawn from the world of children's plays, the content is taken from the world of adults, and judging by Weiser's previous works, the combination will probably revolve between fine nonsensical humor and biting critical satire.
Weiser, 31, one of the more intriguing young writers working in Israel today, wrote the plays "Shufra" and "And Nothing More (Vetu Lo)", also for the Tmuna Theater, and in both managed to accurately map the absurd, the depressing, and the heart-rending essence of our lost generation (mine as well), while deftly avoiding banality. In short, a young playwright writing for young people, unlike too many young playwrights writing for older people. Theater as it should be – which may bring back an audience whose hair has yet to gray.
Ma'ariv Newspaper | Yonatan Esterkin
AYEKA? A FACETIOUS TRUTH
Eyal Weiser's satire at Tmuna Theater is riddled with strikes at the malfunctions of Israeli society.
The whisper shouts and the scream laments
And what is satire if not an intrusion into the audience's private and collective minefield? It's a form of art in which laughter is also, and maybe primarily, tears. In which the caress is painful. The whisper shouts and the scream laments. Satire that is easy to digest is a fraud. The satire we attack unfailingly is one that has hit home. Simply, satire cannot be nice. And that's what the Temuna Ensemble's new performance does.
Eyal Weiser, writer of "Shufra", has now also taken the director's seat in his satire "Ayeka? Israeli Tales" and he's merciless. He is facetious, crude and rude, annoying, and not always on the same level and quality. But the series of childish rhymes he's written, with their rather obscene verse, makes the audience undergo a re-education which teaches us that the road is long before we are a beacon to the gentiles. Our only consolation lies in the fact that we are apparently like all other people. Try and explain that to them. But this is not what concerns Weiser.
Ostensibly, he has a guilty party. The one who hides, the absent force who also claims that he is above all, but lets things happen. This is the entity for which he searches at the beginning and ending, under the title "Ayeka" (where are you?). Searching for God, the one that we say "go find him" or "God is great" or just "You don't have a god". But throughout the search he touches onto human deeds. The one who takes advantage of the great absence, and does what's wrong to his friends (because the One is absent or maybe just blind).
The list of trespasses includes numerous environmental affronts and pollutions, exploitation of women, molestation at home and at school, gossip, slander, and of course the occupation – not of the soul, and a suicide bombing, and shahids, and grief. They are all presented in songs composed with joy by Tal Blecherovitz, which contain hints at familiar sounds. He accompanies the play on piano and clearly enjoys himself.
Four excellent actresses – Efrat Arnon, Hila di Castro, Irit Nathan Bendek and Michal Weinberg, and two excellent actors – Abrum Horowitz and Muli Shulman – create characters, change masks, and sing in comfortable costumes with props designed by Inbal Lieblich. They each have their own moment of achievement, perhaps more than one, in a well consolidated ensemble, with the clean directing of Weiser and a good flow of movement designed by Osnat Knoller. It takes place on a simple stage containing chairs and a post with revolving signs announcing each segment, and a large screen for silhouette work, with efficient lighting by Erez Schwartzbaum.
"Ayeka? Israeli Tales" is a satire evoking rage. It's most convenient to turn this rage against its creators, who in turn choose to turn it against God. But perhaps you should remember, when you enjoy yourself at this play: this is us, it's our closest friends, and it's the reconciling silence. This is satire.
Abama Internet Culture Magazine | Zvi Goren
LET US GROW IN PEACE
Is Eyal Weiser the new Hanoch Levin or a young and immature writer? The answer lays somewhere in the middle.
In the past three years, Eyal Weiser has achieved the status of rising star among sworn fringe lovers thanks to his original works "And Nothing More (Vetu Lo)" and "Shufra". On the other hand, some couldn't see what all the fuss was about, and thought of him as just a young writer in need of a great deal of refinement before becoming worthy of the titles bestowed by culture journalists in the local media.
His new play "Ayeka?" will undoubtedly give rise to this controversy, as it continues the line created in his previous works – of a work comprising a collection of surreal poetic texts without a connecting plot, presenting a presumably childish reality but one that is very disillusioned and grim.
The world according to Weiser is a depressing and scary place, because "God don't live here anymore" (a quote from "Ayeka?" which starts and closes the evening). Everything is the object of great embarrassment or facetious amusement, beginning with the bacteria that drowns in the sea ("the Salmonella and the Sea") to the Russian hooker wondering whose baby she's carrying ("Rendezvous").
Some of the songs evoke more indignation, like the one presenting Zaka volunteers as vultures swooping down on dead bodies ("the Scattered Organ") or the song about the Arab boy dreaming of becoming a shahid (Ahmed's dream). Behind all this is a great fear of the future, or perhaps the lack of one ("Will I be when I grow up?").
Weiser is strongly backed up in his grim and cynical vision by a small and talented ensemble including musician Tal Blecherovitz, pianist Uri Goren, and five excellent actors- Abrum Horowitz, Efrat Arnon, Muli Shulman, Michael Weinberg, and Irit Nathan-Bendeck. He knows how to build a simple and effective stage picture for each piece, by combining silhouettes and stylish poses.
So is Weiser the new Hanoch Levin or a schoolboy limericist who's gotten too big for his boots? The truth, I think, is somewhere in the middle, because at their best, his sketches/songs are really brilliant, but when they miss the target (like in "Hen Hen and the Pushpish" for instance), they are pretentious and lacking in taste. Let the boy grow up a bit. He can definitely become the next big thing, if he learns to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Yediot Achronot | Shay Bar Yaakov