|The Arab-Israeli Cookbook|
REVIEW by Willard Manus
the table and contention will cease" is a wellknown proverb. The
sentiment lies at the heart of THE ARAB-ISRAELI COOKBOOK by Robin Soans,
a British playwright who specializes in "verbatim plays," plays
based on interviews with ordinary people which he then weaves into a dramatic
tapestry. Soans put Arab-Israeli together when he was living in Jerusalem
and was approached by two directors, one Arab, the other Israeli, to write
a play about the Middle East conflict and about how people managed to
survive and live their everyday lives.
The leavening effect of food balances the didacticism; thoughts of favorite dishes or drinks bring out the best in people, prevent them from spouting propaganda. There is also much humor and wit in what is said; humanity and compassion as well.
Director Louis Fantasia does a skilful job in choreographing all the entrances and exits, and he has coaxed remarkable performances out of his cast, which includes Osmail Abou-El-Kanater, Dorothy Constantine, Iman Nazemzadeh, Sarah Bell, Ros Gentle, Louis R. Plante, Ric Borelli, Jill Holden, Dre Slaman (plus understudy Amy Wieczorek).
THE ARAB-ISRAELI COOKBOOK does what it can to bring people of the dehumanized, polarized Middle East together. It doesn't pretend to have answers for all that ails Arabs and Jews, but it does show that they do at least share a common interest in food and conviviality. It's nice to think that recipes, not blueprints, will lead the way to peace. (MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave, Hollywood. Call 323-957-1152 or visit TheArab-IsraeliCookbook-L.A.com)