Vancouver Firehall Arts Centre season opens strong
By Mercedes Deutscher, Staff Writer
My Rabbi, a two-man play about friends with different religious and political views, kicks off the Vancouver Firehall Arts Centre’s latest season with a show that audiences aren’t soon to forget.
The comedy-drama story documents the relationship of two Canadian-born friends: Jacob (Joel Bernbaum), a Jewish Rabbi, and Ayra (Kayvon Kelly), a Muslim man. The story is told through a series of flashbacks about their friendship being affected by family members, their experiences through college years, their chosen professions, trips to Israel and Mecca, and the politics surrounding conflict between Jewish and Palestinian peoples.
For a two-man show, My Rabbi is very well-executed. Despite having only two actors, there are four characters, with each actor playing two roles. It is easy to distinguish between characters and points in time due to distinct characterization and acting. The actors are able to switch mood, character, and scene in a split-second, making the play move on effortlessly and smoothly.
The set contains only a table and two chairs, yet they are utilized highly efficiently. The play also makes use of different kinds of stage lighting to aid in the flow of time, the scene, and how the characters communicate. Voiceover news reports are used effectively to build tension between the two cultures.
For the most part, the story is well-told within its 65-minute run time. While the acting and lighting helps the play’s experience immensely, there are a few script errors that weren’t easy to ignore. Plot points, such as Ayra’s accidental involvement in terrorist activity or the conclusion of these men’s friendship, are mentioned but not explored in as great detail as it seems they should be. Other details that come up while developing the nature of the friendship seem to drag on for longer than necessary.
Despite problems with the script, the production does the best with what it has and the audience was thoroughly engaged.