Ballad Of The Burning Star
Director, Writer, Performer: Nir Paldi
11th March 2014
A lone drummer, Camp David (Pete Aves), hogs the right hand back corner
of the stage, which is otherwise empty except for a glistening red curtain.
After some cursory musical introduction there is a swish of activity and
Star (Paldi) enters, outrageously dressed in gold lamé, and heavy
make-up, a transsexual with default lines as inexplicable as his one man
tour de force routine.
After rave reviews in Edinburgh, the international cast and reknowned
reputation of Theatre Ad Infinitum have brought this unsettling and compelling
cabaret piece to the Unity. Star starts by saying to someone in the crowd
'make sure you know where the emergency exits are in case someone in the
audience has brought a bomb with them'; to edgy tittering from a nearly
full house, this is as good as the humour gets.
If not from a bomb there is plenty of fallout to be enacted over the
next one act, lasting 75 minutes. Intense rhetoric and heart searching
in your face questioning of what it is to be generically Jewish or Arabic
unfolds as the ongoing Palestinian question is put under the microscope.
Star is supported on stage by a ninja style pack of five female actors/dancers,
excellently choreographed, by Orian Michaeli. These join him on the agonising
journey that has afflicted the Jewish nation over the centuries, from
Roman times onwards up until the inception of Israel in 1948, and in the
wars and conflicts beyond - despite Star's prompt, this not the best time
to go to the toilet as a litany of persecution and aggression is breathlessly
sung behind him.
School, family institutions, teenage high kicks, the army; nothing is
left untouched as grandparents remember the concentration camps, parents
demand loyalty and affiliation to the flag, teenagers run the gauntlet
in cars near the border with Palestine; and then there is the army.
Star is conscripted and his conflicted personality, after a botched incursion,
adds a sclerotic dimension to his monologue. His mind is stripped bare
between duty and conscience and the schizophrenic nature of it all climaxes
with the death of an innocent and the look of hatred in another Arabic
Casting aside his facade Israel becomes a bare chested figure of a man
that can masquerade no longer in the make-believe world of greasepaint
that has allowed the story to unfold. Powerful stuff indeed.