Posted on: 03 February 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

Laurence Green reviews the powerful drama Plonter.

No more topical play could have opened in London against a background of a fragile ceasefire in Gaza than Tael Ronen’s Plonter - Yiddish for tangle.

Playing at The Pit in the Barbican Theatre, Ronen’s play marks the first appearance in London for 23 years by Israel’s largest theatre company - the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv - as part of Bite 09.

The play presents the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the perspective of both sides - a Palestinian boy throwing stones at an Israeli army patrol is shot dead by a young IDF soldier, revenge coming later when a group of Palestinian militants break into an Israeli settlement and kill a baby in cold blood - and it depicts the pain and frustration, as well as the humour found in contending with life in the region.

There is an amusing scene in which an Israeli builder starts to construct a partition in a long standing Arab resident’s house and as a result the man and his family will have to pass before a tough young girl soldier every time they want to go to the loo, seemingly a microcosm of the large wall built by Israel to safeguard itself against suicide bombers.

However, the episodic nature of the storytelling coupled with the fact that at times too many characters are on stage at once tends to weaken the impact of the production.

But the company made up of both Israeli Jewish and Arab actors bring their characters fully to life - it is performed in Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles - and makes us aware that this is really a play about conscience and understanding.

Despite its drawbacks there is no denying this is a powerful drama that succeeds in reflecting the current political reality, taking us into the turbulent, tangled, complex and surreal existence of living on either side of the border roadblocks.

By Laurence Green

Show Details

Where: The Pit, Barbican Theatre

When: Plays until the 7th February 2009

Box Office: 0845 120 7500

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