‘The Band’s Visit’ is a candy, haunting stopover in the desolate tract: EW stage review

0251 tony shalhoub katrina lenk in the bands visit photo by matthew murphy 2017
0251 tony shalhoub katrina lenk in the bands visit photo by matthew murphy 2017

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The Arabic language doesn’t like an equivalent to the English letter “p” in its alphabet.

That can want one thing to attain with why an Egyptian militia band touring to Israel for a efficiency by accident arrives now not in the metropolitan Petah Tikvah, however as a replacement in the (fictional) Wager Hatikva, a tiny dot of concrete in the guts of the Negev desolate tract — that’s Wager Hatikva, with a “b,” as in “blah, blah, blah.”

Without a hotels and no bus out till the next morning, Wager Hatikva residents conform to permit the the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra, all wearing their robins-egg blue militia-model uniforms, to end for the night time.

For a musical centered on an surprising collision of a team of Egyptians and a team of Israelis, there is sort of no focus on of politics in The Band’s Visit. No person mentions religion or warfare. The centuries of geopolitical warfare underlying the narrative’s premise are take care of a metaphorical held breath —and the characterize itself is a tiring, straightforward exhale. Right here’s a musical about folks, now not nations.

Quite a lot of the strongest scenes come straight from Eran Kolirin’s 2007 movie of the identical title, collectively with the memorable moment correct thru which the band’s Chet Baker-loving females man is ready to wordlessly relate the awkward Papi on the art of seduction. But all the issues is elevated by David Yazbek’s (Soiled Corrupt Scoundrels, Girl on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) haunting music and deadpan lyrics that perfectly purchase the Israeli humor that made the original movie such a popular among critics and viewers.

In her role as Dina, the proprietor of a restaurant in town, Katrina Lenk (Gross) is dazzling. It’s her gestures, down to the model she cuts watermelon or arches one eyebrow, that end with you after the curtain falls, even if her chemistry with the splendidly buttoned-up bandleader Tewfiq (Tony Shalhoub) seems moderately asymmetrical. “Gloomy and thrilling, odd and candy,” Lenk sings about her childhood fascination with Egyptian custom, her state embodying all the issues she fantasized about.

But perchance the supreme personality in The Band’s Visit could well merely be the unnamed Israeli boy who stands by the one payphone in town, ready all night time for his female friend to name, his desperate face illuminated by its harsh fluorescent. Right here’s a play about ready, and loneliness, and the human want to connect with one more human, even if it’s anyone separated by a one-manner phone name that could well now not occur. The characterize itself leaves the target market ready, in some ways, for the fabricate of climax that by no methodology comes. There are no elaborately choreographed dance sequences or dramatic betrayals or divulge twists. The fine revelation is that there are no revelations; that humans and their petty, interior concerns, their hopes and disasters, are abundant adequate to issue about.

“As soon as, now not prolonged ago, a team of musicians came to Israel from Egypt. You perchance didn’t hear about it. It wasn’t critical,” the musical begins. And so what are we left with as target market contributors after spending an hour and a half of in the corporate of folks merely meeting and paying attention to music and spending time collectively sooner than parting ways? The sound of Lenk’s mellifluous state, the tiny Israeli miniature print, the flickers of emotion that blueprint Tewfiq’s restraint. The target market is left take care of the characters are left after the night time of the band’s visit in Wager Hatikvah: the identical, ostensibly, however with the realm colored moderately otherwise.

The Band’s Visit is understated, potentially better described as charming than existence-altering, however its scale reinforces the best subject matters of the musical itself. Nothing critical occurs, no. A boy learns consult with ladies, a girl acknowledges the ways correct thru which she’s was caught, a pair breaks apart and springs collectively again. Every undoubtedly this sort of humans who like lost issues and who’re lost themselves occur to be Arab, and some occur to be Israeli. It’s a level-headed, good ingredient The Band’s Visit does, and whereas I needed there had been more one thing — more emotional payoff, or catharsis — I also factor in that that’s fabricate of the level. A-

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