Seven Days | Teatron Toronto Jewish Theatre

By on January 16, 2014
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“Seven Days” follows the Reznick family in two parallel time periods separated by 25 years: The seven day mourning period following the mother/wife figure Sarah’s death in 2000, and the weeks preceding their youngest son Barack’s abrupt departure in 1975. On the surface it appears to be a simple story, but it is anything but ordinary. Throughout the journey, the audience is woven into several deep family issues and secrets that have created tension and drama within the Reznick family.

Nathan and Sarah Reznick are a married couple who were soldiers in the Arab-Israeli war fighting for the Jewish people. The couple, who reminisce on the “old times” and recount an array of war stories, decided to move to Los Angeles with their three sons Harry, Josh, and Barrack to give the boys “a better life”.  The heart of the play questions why if someone is willing to take a bullet for their country, why would they leave it?

The main actors in the show have the great challenge of playing two different ages, in two different time periods, but the audience is easily able to differentiate the two, so it is therefore a success. The two clear stars of the show in my opinion are Rob Boyd who plays Nathan and Geoff Kolomayz who plays Barrack. Boyd is able to comfortably change from a fourty-something happy-go-lucky business owner to an eighty-something grieving husband who wants to let go of the past, but struggles to do so. His acting is impeccable, genuine and believable. Kolomayz’s talents reflect Boyd’s, where is easily able to create two characters out of the same person – a seventeen year old student with eyes open to the future, and a fourty-two year old professor and father of two, who genuinely hasn’t seen his family in twenty five years.

Marion Hirschberg’s role as Sarah was also performed brilliantly. Sarah is described by her husband as a terrible cook with heavy food, but at the end of the day, would always cook for her family. She is portrayed as selfless and giving but stuck in her old ways, traditions, and values. What I interpreted was that Sarah is afraid of change, which is represented by her son Barrack who wants to go to school to spread his wings instead of staying at home to take care of the family.

The other five actors (Zack Amzallag, Karina Bershteyn, Bob Cooper, Richard Hoffman, and Katie Housley) add to the flow of the story and allow for the family drama to escalate to a point where relationships can be broken, and then re-built. I did however feel that the emotions that the rest of the cast were trying to portray weren’t entirely genuine, and at times felt a little forced. However, this could be for many reasons such as the small size of the crowd, or the energy from said crowd, or even the fact that it was only their second day of performances.

Something else that viewers should be aware of is that there is strong language, and a few scenes that can be seen an offensive, like when the older characters/ex fighters express their feelings of the Arabic people whom they were around. I am not going to lie, I was starting to get offended with the said scenes, but one must remember that the play’s intent to be offensive. The characters really hold onto and believe old values, and demonstrate that through their stories and choices in language.

One of my favourite scenes in the play is when the family is huddled around the TV in 1975, watching news coverage of the Vietnam War. They make comments to the extent of “Why can’t the Americans just crush the little country?” and “If we have such a good army, what’s taking so long?” Why I loved this scene is because here is a family who talks almost daily of the plight of the little guys in Israel defending their country and their lives on the other side, and rooting for the big guys to go in and essentially “end the war” on the other. The position of the members of the family has flipped. I feel like this is a comment on society. We hold our values to what we associate with in the present, and fail to, or even ignore the other person(s) emotions, even though we may know exactly what they are going through.

The play also comments on many real life issues that surround many families, including my own including: not being to let go, the hardships of moving on and forward, embracing the future, the meaning of family, and even the realities of living in an immigrant home. These themes are what make this show accessible to all theatre lovers (that and the great drama). However, not having a knowledge of Jewish history can be a bit of a difficulty when watching the show, however, the script and actors do an excellent job in explaining traditions and customs so that anyone can understand them.

“Seven Days” which is directed and produced by Ari Weisberg is currently playing in the Studio Theatre at the Toronto Center for the Arts. The show will have regular performances until January 19.

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About Shan Fernando

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