[20020050] Via Dolorosa

Via Dolorosa

@ Space Theatre

6:00pm, Thu 7 Mar 2002

Score: 9

Short Review: Arresting

Documenting British playwright David Hare’s 1997 visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, “Via Dolorosa” is not an opinion piece, but more of a chronologue of his travels and conversations with friends, politicians, settlers and historians, both in Israel and the Palestinian territory.

Australian actor Patrick Dickson superbly plays the role of Hare in this stunning monologue, which not only deals with the conflict between Arab and Jew, but also the tensions within the Jewish community (secular versus religious Jews) and Christianity as a whole (“sects and the single church”).

Amongst these weighty debates can be found the most impossible humour – Eran Baniel’s production of Romeo and Juliet, with Palestinians playing the Capulets, and Jews playing the Montagues (“the Capulets really hated the Montagues”) being a prime example. But the performance reaches an arresting and powerful climax when Hare visits Yad Vashem, the museum of the Holocaust, and reads the text of Himmler’s speech: a deeply wrenching moment.

The performance ends by posing “Are we where we live, or are we what we think? What matters? Stones or Ideas?”. During his travels, Hare met people who conceded that the six-day war in 1967 destroyed “our essential Jewishness, because up till then places and buildings and stones didn’t mean anything to us… What mattered to us were ideas.”

“Via Dolorosa” designates a stretch of road along which Jesus Christ walked bowed under the weight of the Cross. David Hare travelled the same road, seemingly carrying the values and beliefs of the Western civilisation with him. The resulting play is a powerful, weighty piece of work.

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