2nd Story Theatre has extended itself with a third performance space at the Courtroom at the Bristol Statehouse, with a 90-minute, one-act, one-woman production of William Gibson’s “Golda’s Balcony.”
Sandra Laub gives a brilliant performance as the former Israeli Prime Minister, Golda Meir, taking complete control of the room, set up as Meir’s office. She wanders about the room, telling her story from humble beginnings in America to a major world leader in Israel.
Although smaller, Laub makes us believe that she is Golda, with her sad, penetrating eyes, crisp language and the personal telling of her story, looking into the eyes of audience members and making them feel for her and her cause.
She tells her story at the end of her life. “I’m old. I’m tired. I’m sick. I’m dying,” she explains, beginning and ending with the burning question: “What happens when idealism becomes power?”
For those of us who did not pay close attention to what was happening in Israel, especially during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, some of the characters and events may need a little freshening up, but to the American Jews it is a solemn reminder of their difficult past. At one point, Meir refers to Jews as a synonym for survivors.
Director Bryna Wortman makes full use of the space in the courtroom, using photos of Golda, her husband and children, and world leaders such as Nixon, Kissinger, Ben-Gurion and others flashed on the back wall.
A side note: Wortman uses the new technology of the computer, with Stage Manager Amy Thompson sitting behind a small desk and keyboard, controlling lights, sound and projected photographs.
The title of the play, first written with over 20 characters and unsuccessful on Broadway, refers to the prime minister’s balcony overlooking a nuclear enrichment plant, a long way from Golda’s Zionist beginnings.
While the play gets a bit heavy and wanders at times, the message is very clear, and the portrayal of this incredible woman is realized to its fullest by Laub’s performance.
“Golda’s Balcony” is at the Bristol State House, 240 High St. in the center of Bristol, through Dec. 8. Tickets are $30; call 247-4200 for reservations.