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Chez Melinda
by Melinda Given Guttmann

"The Bride and the Butterfly Hunter" by Nissim Aloni
May 12 to 23 (CLOSED)
La MaMa E.T.C. (First Floor Theater), 74A East Fourth Street
Presentred by La MaMa E.T.C.
Victor Attar and Liat Ron in "The Bride and the Butterfly Hunter." (photo: Chiara Nath)
THE BRIDE AND THE BUTTERFLY HUNTER by Israeli playwright Nissim Aloni (1926-1998), appears on the surface to be a frothy playful theatre of the Absurd focused on the incongruous encounter between a bride left at the altar (played by Liat Ron) by her bridegroom and a petit-bourgeois clerk (played by Victor Attar) who oddly hunts butterflies on Wednesday afternoons. There is much banter, jeux de mots and humorous misunderstandings between them. They encounter each other in a park (in a beautiful set by by Jan Rauchwerger, based on a painting by Yoai Bergner) in which blares non-stop Tchaikovsky walzs, tangos, and other lovely music, conducted by an impersonal loudpeaker's voices which directs the activities of the park.

Underneath the playful chatter of the bride, Mee (lots of puns intended)-- whose bridegroom will only play her voice on a flute (do, re,me) but not pronounce it-- and Getz,--who fears catching the butterflies he chases-- are ominous references to the future of the state of Israel. Political references abound: Getz's fear of killing a butterfly, and that it's "one chance in a million to catch one," is perhaps alluding to the despair that peace between the Arabs and Israelis is also such a gambit. The Bride comes to the wedding unsure of her love and the Bridegroom comes at the last minute, still unable to say "Me." She is perhaps a symbol of Israel and he is a symbol of the Arab countries--both attempting a union at the peace table, a marriage gone haywire. The park itself is the utopian vision of Israel blooming in the desert.

The play only runs a hour; it is condensed like a surrealist poem and is au fond an enigmatic delight. It is directed by Victor Attar and Geula Jeffet Attar of La MaMa Tel-Aviv. [MGG]

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