Back to the Lyric last night for Gecko’s The Arab And The Jew, a near-wordless two man examination of the Arab Israeli situation. This is part of the London International Mime Festival and the piece is indeed free of dialogue in the conventional sense, if not of speech entirely. Instead, the performers utter odd words here and there, coupled with some unintelligible murmuring and garbled interjections. But, in the main, the physical dominates over the verbal; as the performers dance and tumble and claw at the ground.
It begins with a bang, as the two performers, Al Nedjari and Amit Lahav, friends who grew up on either side of the divide, tumble into the sand. What follows is a galloping collage of inventive scenes, each underscored with the idea of conflict. I particularly enjoyed the sudden segue into music hall skit, where the men play with toy drums and toy guns to the strains of You Always Hurt The One You Love.
As Andrew Haydon also mentioned over on Postcards, a lot of what I’ve seen so far this year has been on the short side, an hour or less, this show included. If I don’t get an interval soon, I may have to rename this blog. The Arab and The Jew ran for around 55 minutes, but even then the concept felt a bit bitty and stretched. However there was so much going on, so many arresting visual images that my attention never wavered. It just felt more like a series of, wildly inventive, but very individual moments rather than a cohesive piece.
I will admit that my appreciation may have been, er, enhanced by the two teenage boys behind me who exuded an air of I Really Would Rather Be Elsewhere from the beginning, with their constant checking of their watches and murmuring of ‘was that supposed to be funny, or what?’ accompanied by a soundtrack of incessant bag rummaging and the repeated fastening and unfastening of Velcro. But, as has happened before, some inner limpness on my part prevented me from turning round and telling them off. I always wish I had my flatmate with me at such moments; she is a secondary school teacher and has perfected an over-the-top-of-her-glasses stare of death that can silence most boys in a second. Most people for that matter. That’s a trick I’d like to learn.