Unraveling Israeli Society: A Dark and Captivating Exploration in “Hefetz”

In a world where people are measured by who they trample and where one person’s sense of worth is created by the inferiority of another, “Hefetz” takes us deep into the gritty underbelly of Israeli society. Hanoch Levin’s classic play, brilliantly brought to life by director Miri Lazar and a talented cast, offers a thought-provoking glimpse into the power dynamics that shape human existence in all its misery.

“Hefetz” immerses us in the tumultuous weeks leading up to Fogra’s wedding, an event that becomes the catalyst for a series of power games that define the characters’ fates. Teyglakh and Klemanopea, portrayed with intensity by Zvika Hadar and Osnat Fishman, venture out to celebrate the impending nuptials, inadvertently excluding their perpetual sub-tenant, Heffetz, played convincingly by Ben Yosipovich. What follows is a relentless battle of wills, as Heffetz’s hurt feelings ignite a war of humiliation that consumes the stage.

The Human Drama Unfolds

As the characters’ free will is systematically debased by Fogra’s growing influence, the play delves deep into their complex relationships. Hanna Cherlich, the weary waitress played by Oshrat Ingedashet, adds layers of depth to the emotional fabric of the story, while Daniel Sabag’s portrayal of Adash Bardash and Uri Hochman’s Shukra provide a compelling counterbalance to the unfolding drama.

Miri Lazar’s direction masterfully guides the audience through the unbearable descent of Heffetz’s life. The relentless re-enactments of his own misery, played out with chilling precision by Teyglakh and Klemanopea, showcase the darkness that can lurk beneath the surface of seemingly ordinary lives. Lazar’s vision shines through not only in the storytelling but also in the set design by Adam Keller, lighting by Meir Alon, and costumes by Maor Zabar, all of which contribute to the immersive experience.

A Chorus of Despair

The play’s climax arrives on the morning of the wedding, as Heffetz, pushed to the brink, declares his intention to end his own life. This shocking revelation leads to a chilling gathering of acquaintances and a chorus of despair, including Fogra and her new husband, Varsheviak, portrayed with emotional depth by Hagar Tishman and Nadir Eldad/Avishai Meridor.

“Hefetz” is not a light-hearted evening at the theater. It’s a raw, disturbing, and unapologetic reflection of the darker facets of Israeli society, masterfully dissected by Hanoch Levin’s timeless script. The play’s themes of power, humiliation, and the human capacity for cruelty resonate not only in the Israeli context but also serve as a mirror for societies everywhere.

A Glimpse into Israeli Society

For American audiences eager to gain insight into Israeli culture, “Hefetz” offers a challenging yet essential perspective. The play paints a nuanced portrait of a society grappling with its own contradictions and the struggles of its inhabitants.

“Hefetz” is a theatrical tour de force that leaves its audience grappling with uncomfortable truths. Hanoch Levin’s timeless narrative, coupled with Miri Lazar’s visionary direction and a committed cast, delivers a powerful exploration of the human condition. While it may not be for the faint of heart, this production serves as a stark and necessary reflection on the complexities of Israeli society. It reminds us that beneath the facade of celebration and festivity, a darker, more profound story often unfolds—one that demands our attention and introspection.


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