Last updated December 3rd 2015
Gesher Theater’s Mr. Vertigo is a magical experience that takes the viewer on an entertaining and deeply emotional journey, while raising questions of art, theatre, body, spirit, truth and illusion. The stage adaptation of Paul Auster’s eponymous novel by Yoav Shoten-Goshen and Director Irad Rubinshtein heightens the mythic aspects of Walt’s life story, distilling the picaresque adventures into a poetic, striking drama.
The play opens with a curtain call to the sound of applause as the colorful members of a circus troupe take their bows. One of them, a handsome young man accoutered with a pair of white wings, remains behind on the empty stage to take the audience back into a memory: “I was twelve years old when I met him…” This is Walt (Hillel Cappon) at twelve: a ragged, ignorant, young orphan in the care of his drunken, abusive, uncle. Master Yehudi magically appears in his life, offering not only to take him away from the filth and violence, but to effect something miraculous. Master Yehudi says he will teach Walt to fly.
Master Yehudi is a Svengali-like character, steeped in mystery and an aficionado of total control. He takes Walt into his home, or actually the home of the wealthy Mrs. Witherspoon, where there is another student, Aesop, whom he is grooming for academic scholarship, and Mama Sioux, who presides over the domestic aspects of the home. Walt may or may not learn to fly, but he is no angel. He is very much a product of his upbringing, a creature of ignorance and prejudice.
The concept of flight leads the mind to questions of the spirit and transcendence, yet Walt’s education is very much grounded in physical experiences, mostly painful. Art demands suffering, does it not?
Music, lights, movement, costume and sets are major players in this spectacle, not only providing a background and contributing to the mood of this play, but at times even referencing the central themes in subtle ways. What appears at first as a very bare stage, reveals some surprises throughout the play, yet also makes a point of showing these elements as manufactured, an illusion created through art. When Mrs. Witherspoon takes Walt for a ride (sexual innuendo totally intended), music, lights, and a stage extra pulling them around work together to create an almost hallucinatory experience, one can almost feel what Walt feels: this boy whose mind is practically a blank slate literally does not know what is happening to him. Yet one’s imagination takes flight in this play that literally ‘does it with mirrors’ in beautiful flight scene, and wire balls turn into tumbleweeds turn into glowing stars.
Based on the novel by Paul Auster; Adapted by Yoav Shoten-Goshen, Irad Rubinshtein; Directed by Irad Rubinshtein; Set and Costume Design: Michael Kremenko; Lighting Design: Avi Yona Bueno (Bambi); Choreography: Amit Zamir; Dramaturge: Roy Chen; Music: Roy Yarkoni; Sound: Michael Weisbrod; Assistant Director: Sasha Kreindlin; Line Producer: Roman Kevtner; Cast: Hillel Cappon, Gilad Kletter, Miki Leon, Ori Yaniv, Karin Serrouya, Ruth Rasiuk, Lucy Dubinchik, Angela Shteingart, Paulo Moura, Michael Rivkin.
Future performances: December 10 & 11, 2015. Check the Gesher Theatre website for details.