By Michael Gurevitch
Osher in Hebrew means Happiness
From Hebrew: Anthony Berris
The Characters (in order of appearance):
Television technician/television compere
Vivi – a young woman
Dr. Yosef Eini – a commentator*
Dr. Mordechai Dlatotkin – a commentator*
Shmuel Boganim – a man from the audience
Elisheva Boganim – his wife
Osher – Vivi’s partner or husband
The Father – Osher’s father
The Boy/the Angel
The Commanding Officer (CO) – a card player
Plotnik – a card player*
Man 3 – a card player*
The action takes place in a three-story apartment house and on a theatre stage.
The stage is divided into three areas separated by three pairs of curtains, each on its own runner so that not only can they be closed but they can also pass one another. This enables rapid scene shifts.
* The actor playing Plotnik also plays Dr. Dlatotkin. The actor playing Man 3 also plays Dr. Eini. This is the ironic idea in Scenes 9 and 10.
(Vivi’s living room. A couch. The Technician is sitting on the couch playing with the remote control. The TV flickers over his face. From the TV comes the sound of changing channels)
Technician: (Loudly, over the sound of the TV) I almost got married too but she took off at the last minute. To this day I can’t understand why. She killed me.
(Enter Vivi from the kitchen wearing an apron and drying a plate. She turns off the TV)
Technician: The TV’s fine, the dish is the problem.
Vivi: Can you fix it?
Technician: Anything can be fixed.
Vivi: It’s just that I’ve got a dinner with the parents this evening and the kitchen’s a mess and I’ve got to move the couch and bring in the dining table…
Technician: Lady, I can’t help you with the dinner but if you invite me to eat I can eat, to prepare I don’t know how, but I can fix the dish in less than no time, it’s just a little loose connection, is the roof door open?
Vivi: The roof door?
Technician: Is the roof door open?
Vivi: I’ll get you the key. (Exits)
Technician: You’ve got a great TV here, Sony DSP twenty-nine inch flat screen, doesn’t break down, the problem is if it does break down it’s a catastrophe, you can die till you fix it.
Vivi: (Returns, hands him the key) The roof door key.
Technician: I’ll go up and be right down. (Exits, singing to himself) La-la, la-la-la…
(This the song that the Boy sings to Osher in Scene Five. He exits. His singing can be heard with his footsteps in the stairwell)
Vivi: (Listens to the song that sounds familiar, sits down on the couch. As the Technician’s voice fades she adds the last line of the song) La-la-la-la…
(The curtain closes)
(The Compere comes out from behind the curtain. He is the actor who plays the Technician. Now he is wearing a sequined suit and is all joy and good spirits)
Compere: Good evening, it’s me again, the host with the most. You’ve seen me here, you’ve seen me there and here I am again, the same role, the same happiness and how nice it is you’ve come and what joy to host you here in our warm, pleasant, charming and atmosphere-filled theatre. And what a great play we’ve got for you today! Full of surprises, lots of stars and music, just what you like from start to finish, a fun play, a fun story, fun songs, fun actors, great jokes, in short, a great play. Plus – a bonus message. Oh yes. Behind all this there’s a big message. What else have we got today? Commentators! Like on TV, and more. They’ll explain anything that’s unclear, God forbid, and here they are: Dr. Yosef Eini and Dr. Mordechai Dlatotkin!
Compere: Good evening to you both.
Both: Good evening.
Compere: I’d like to introduce you to our wonderful audience. You just watch the play from the side and every now and again come onstage and give us your edifying comments. Like on TV.
Dlatotkin: With pleasure. We’re certainly curious.
Eini: (To Dlatotkin) Certainly… certainly…
Compere: Thank you very much. We’ll be waiting impatiently for your words of wisdom. It’s a great day for the theatre. (Hands them two programs)
Eini: What’s this?
Compere: The program. You can read it in the meantime.
Both: Thank you. Thank you very much. (They exit)
Compere: Thank you to Dr. Eini and Dr. Dlatotkin. And there’s just one thing I want from you: lean back and be happy. What’s our play called? Osher! Happiness! Like on TV. Be happy. We love you. Because you’re our audience and we’re your theatre. The Khan Theatre – Now More Than Ever. Why? Because. (Bursts into laughter)
But first of all, to get us into the atmosphere, I’d like to introduce our stars who will perform the Dance of Happiness!
(The curtain opens. Enter the actors who perform the Dance of Happiness. At the end of the dance they arrange the stage for the first scene)
Compere: And after that ever so happy opening number performed by our actors, we can begin…
(A telephone rings in the audience)
Oops… I can hear a phone.
(He searches for the source of the ringing. Shmuel and his wife Elisheva are seated in the audience. The phone rings. Shmuel answers)
Elisheva: Shmuel, switch it off!
Compere: No, no, Madam, let him talk, we don’t wish to disturb you. Finish your call and we’ll continue.
(Enter the actors playing Osher and the Father and together with the Compere they look at the couple in the audience)
Shmuel: (Into the phone) I’ll be right there. (Gets up. To Elisheva) I’ve got to go.
Elisheva: (Grabs his arm) Where’ve you got to go? You said you’d come with me. Where are you going?
Shmuel: The CO’s been arrested, they need bail.
Elisheva: I’m coming with you.
Shmuel: No, no, stay here, I’ll go to the police with them and I’ll come back, when the show’s over I’ll be waiting outside.
Elisheva: No, Shmuel, you’re going to play, I know it, you’re going to play again.
Shmuel: Who’s going to play? You think I’m crazy?
Elisheva: You’re like a drug addict.
Shmuel: Do me a favor, Elisheva, don’t make a scene, there’s a far better play right here, sit down, watch, enjoy, we’ll meet outside in… (To the Compere) How long does the play take?
(The three answer together)
Osher: An hour and a quarter.
Father: An hour twenty.
Compere: An hour and ten minutes, tops.
Shmuel: (To Elisheva) See? We’ll meet outside in an hour.
Elisheva: Why can’t we ever sit quietly and enjoy ourselves?
Shmuel: After the show we’ll go to the café next door and sit quietly, I promise. I’ve got to go now.
Elisheva: (Holding his arm) Don’t go, Shmuel, d’you hear? You’re killing me.
Shmuel: Elisheva, you’re hysterical. Stop it. I’ll meet you outside. (Exits)
Elisheva: (After him) Shmuel! (Sits down)
(Osher and the Father begin arranging the stage)
Compere: Is that it? Now so that your enjoyment of the play is complete, may I suggest that you switch off your cell phones, unless you’re expecting a very urgent call.
Right, let’s begin. Our play takes place in a three-story apartment building. On the first floor lives the Father. Right now we’ll see how his son, Osher, suggests that he moves house. Scene One.
Scene One – Osher Suggests to His Father that He Moves House
(Onstage a table covered with a tablecloth. Osher and his Father are seated on both sides of the table finishing their coffee. The Father, an elderly, well-dressed man, takes a last sip of his coffee. Osher clears the table)
Osher: So that’s it. Everything’s green. Trees, lawns, a pool, a gym. You can either eat in the dining room or cook for yourself in your apartment. You’ll have people around you…
Father: You want to get rid of me.
Osher: Oh, Dad, you know that if anything happened to you I wouldn’t have a moment’s peace.
Father: What have got in that bag?
Osher: Papers, documents.
(Exit Osher stage right. The Father picks up the bag and takes out a woman’s shoe. Osher comes back, sees his father with the shoe, takes it and puts it back into the bag)
Osher: What’s all this?
Father: What’s all what?
Osher: Some woman’s spreading shoes around. The way a flower spreads pollen. I’d like to be a detective. (Smiles) Or a butterfly.
Father: How’s Vivi?
Osher: You’re coming up to us for dinner, right?
Osher: Try not to talk about shoes, all right? (Turns to leave. Stops) We’ll go and see the place tomorrow?
Father: Enough! I don’t want to hear any more about that place. You can put your mind at rest. You won’t have to look after me for even a single day. A minute. You won’t even have to call a doctor. And by the way, I’m warning you: if you take me to the hospital I’ll haunt your dreams. (Silence) The moment I fall the doorbell will ring. Open the door.
(He gets up and exits. A thump and the sound of a cup shattering on the floor is heard off)
(The doorbell rings)
Osher: Come in.
(Enter the Boy carrying a valise. Osher looks at him, stunned)
Boy: (Smiling) Hello.
Boy: I’m looking for work.
(The curtain shifts)
Scene Two – Vivi
(Vivi is dozing on the couch. Sound of the door opening and closing. She comes awake and gets up. Enter Osher, confused and frightened, carrying the bag)
Vivi: Dinner’s ready.
Osher: My dad won’t be coming.
(He puts the bag onto the couch and takes off his jacket)
Vivi: What’s wrong?
Osher: He fell, he’s paralyzed. He’s not talking.
Vivi: Did you call a doctor?
(He sits down on the couch)
Osher: He won’t let me… Something strange happened before he fell… (Gets up) I’ll call a doctor, of course I’ll call a doctor (Turns to leave. Stops) The doorbell rang, some boy came in… I’ll call a doctor.
(He exits. Vivi peeks into the bag. He comes back)
Osher: The doctor’s engaged. (Short pause) I’ll go and see what’s happening with him… (Turns to leave. Tries to remember something) What was it? A dream I had… No matter, I’ll call from downstairs. (Turns to leave. Stops) The doctor’s number (Comes back and goes into the kitchen)
Vivi: You left something behind.
(She takes the shoe from the bag and tries it on. It fits. She picks up the remote control and switches on the TV. From the set come the sounds from the beginning of Scene Three. The doorbell rings.)
Vivi: Come in.
(Enter the CO, carrying a shoe. He looks at Vivi. A short pause)
CO: Excuse me, is this shoe yours?
Vivi: (Glances towards the kitchen and back to him) I think so.
(She takes the shoe, sits down on the couch, tries on the shoe, it fits and matches the one she is already wearing)
CO: We’re playing at Plotnik’s.
CO: Two floors down.
Vivi: In the basement.
CO: Are you alone?
Vivi: Very much so.
CO: I found the shoe… on the stairs… it was shouting “Help!” The game’s still on.
(Vivi looks at the flickering TV)
Scene Three – The Basement
(A table, on it a bottle of vodka, cards and money. Shmuel is sitting with his back to the audience, Man 3 is to his right. Plotnik is pacing restlessly. The CO is standing deep in thought)
Plotnik: How much are you down?
CO: Five thousand.
Plotnik: (To Man 3) You?
Man 3: Two thousand five. You?
Plotnik: Twenty thousand.
CO: He’s laughing.
Plotnik: Just wait, the night’s still young.
CO: (To Plotnik, as he glances upward) Who’s that girl on the second floor?
Plotnik: A looker, eh?
CO: She live alone?
Plotnik: How would I know? I’m in the basement.
Man 3: Come on…
CO: You deal?
Shmuel: I dealt.
Compere: (Enters, to the audience) The lovely lady on the top floor is called Vivi, and we call the mystery man who found the shoe, “the CO”. We’re in the basement. (Exits)
(The CO sits down)
Man 3: Pass.
Plotnik. A thousand. (Pushes a thousand into the center of the table)
CO: I’m in.
Shmuel: Your thousand and another two. (Puts two thousand in the center of the table)
Plotnik: I’m in. (Adds another thousand)
CO: I’m in. (Adds another thousand)
Shmuel: See you.
(The men do not hear her)
Plotnik: (Spreads his cards) Two pair.
CO: Three tens.
(Plotnik holds his head in despair)
Elisheva: (Stands up in her place in the audience) Shmuel! (To the audience) That’s my husband up there. I knew he was going to play cards, he’s driving me crazy. Shmuel!
(Shmuel does not respond)
All right, I’ll call him.
(She takes her phone from her purse and dials)
(A phone onstage rings. All four pull out their phones, Shmuel answers)
Shmuel: (Panicking) Elisheva? Has the show finished?
Elisheva: You’re playing cards!
Shmuel: Nonsense! We’re at the police station. They’ve arrested the CO again… I’m fixing bail and I’ll be right there.
Elisheva: Why are you lying to me? I can see you.
(Shmuel looks around in fright)
Shmuel: (To the others, his hand over the mouthpiece) Is there an open window in here? (Into the phone) Where are you? Have you left the theatre?
Elisheva: You’re sitting on the stage playing cards!
Shmuel: What stage, Elisheva? Where are you?
Elisheva: I’m in the theatre, mister. And I can see you clearly. You’re sitting on the stage with another three characters and you’re playing cards.
CO: Switch it off for God’s sake and pick up your hand.
Shmuel: Hold it a minute, she’s totally hysterical.
Elisheva: (To the audience) I’m totally hysterical…
Shmuel: (Into the phone) Elisheva…
Shmuel: Now listen to me, you’re just being hysterical, I don’t know what you’re talking about, we’ll be finishing up here in a few minutes and I’ll be waiting for you outside the theatre as soon as the show’s over. Elisheva, honey, please, trust me a bit, you know I don’t lie to you.
Elisheva: (To the audience) All right, how do I get backstage? (Into the phone) I’m coming to get you. (Disconnects)
Shmuel: Elisheva… Elisheva… Hello…
Elisheva: (Moves to the exit) How do you get out of here?
CO: See you.
Shmuel: (Spreads his hand) Full house! (He laughs and rakes in the money)
Elisheva: (To the audience, from the exit) I’m going backstage, I don’t give a damn. Seven years ago he went to the casino in Jericho and lost our house. (Exits)
CO: (Gets up. To Plotnik) Come on, bring another bottle. Is there another one?
(Raises his head and looks upward)
Plotnik: Yes, I’ve got another.
Man 3: (To Shmuel) What’s with him today?
Scene Four – Vivi Sees a Movie
(Vivi is sitting facing the flickering TV screen. From the TV come the sounds of the card game from the previous scene. The CO is standing behind her. She turns down the volume)
Vivi: (Towards the kitchen) Did you call?
(The CO moves downstage. Enter Osher)
Osher: Not yet but I’ve got the number. (Moves towards the door. Stops) I remembered that dream I had last night… Did somebody ring the doorbell?
Vivi: I didn’t hear anything.
Osher: I’m in the local shopping center. I suddenly think I can see you in the distance, among all the people. I start walking after you, but you’re moving away. I walk faster but so do you. And then, strangely, I feel that somebody’s following me. Can you picture it? I’m walking after you and somebody’s walking after me. I had the feeling that it was a man and that maybe he was following you and I was stuck in the middle.
(A short pause, Vivi is looking at the TV. He sits down beside her)
What do you think of that?
Vivi: (He sits next to her and takes his bag) You could have turned round and seen him.
Osher: I was scared of seeing him.
Vivi: (To the TV) The card players. Seen it?
Vivi: There’s a man deceiving his wife.
Osher: I’ve made up my mind about my dad. (Gets up) Do you want to come down with me?
Vivi: I’m watching a movie.
Osher: I’ll take him.
(He turns to leave. She goes on watching the screen From the TV, the sounds from the card game)
Osher: (Stops) Yes?
Vivi: Like the shoes? They suit me?
Osher: Very much. Wish you well to wear them.
(He exits. The CO approaches her from downstage and stands behind her)
Vivi: You smell like a man that women pay to kill their husbands.
You all play cards at Plotnik’s every Thursday. I see you coming from the window and I see you leaving at night. You get drunk there, don’t you?
CO: You’ve got a husband. (Short pause) You didn’t say you had a husband.
Vivi: You’re scary. That’s good. The fear I feel with you relieves the apprehension I feel with him.
(Enter the Compere from behind the right rear curtain)
Intermediate Scene – The Commentators
(Enter the Compere)
Compere: Sorry about bursting in. (To the audience) Is it too disjointed? Difficult to follow? Anyone not understand anything? Now’s the time to hear from our commentators: Dr. Yosef Eini and Dr. Mordechai Dlatotkin.
(Exit Vivi and the CO. Enter Dr. Dlatotkin and Dr. Eini, somewhat shyly and hesitantly)
Eini: (To the audience) Good evening.
Compere: Come along, please come in.
Eini: We’re not exactly used to… (To Dlatotkin) I think, no? (To the audience) Coming in in the middle… interrupting…
Compere: You’re not interrupting, on the contrary. We want to help the audience… to think, understand, in the end there’s a message here…
Eini: All right then, I suggest we open our discussion of the play with the question of the narrative…
Eini: The syntax.
Compere: In other words?
Eini: What it’s about.
Eini: That is… the play.
Compere: What else?
Eini: Dr. Dlatotkin, what do you think?
Dlatotkin: I agree with Yosef.
Compere: Interesting. Perhaps you might expand a little, Dr… ah… Dlatotkin?
Eini: (Trying to continue) Just allow me to…
Dlatotkin: I agree and disagree.
Compere: Interesting. In other words?
Eini: I just wanted to try…
Dlatotkin: A three-story apartment house. What does it symbolize? The upper floor – husband and wife, the lower floor – a father, and the husband here is the son, and in the basement – card-players: Money! The Freudian symbol of desires, lusts, passions, irrational longings! A three-story apartment building. (Businesslike) – Forgive me for deviating to technical matters. The father, what happened to him, a stroke?
Compere: Something like that, apparently.
Dlatotkin: Good. In the father’s stroke is there not a kind of para-pathological epitomizing of the condition of the pseudo-son, that is the husband, or in other words, an intertextual reference to the Oedipus complex?
Eini: (To the Compere) What’s he saying? Do you understand what he’s saying?
Compere: Not so far, but it’s very interesting. (He sits down on the couch and falls asleep a moment later)
Dlatotkin: (To the audience) What are we talking about here, Yosef?
Dlatotkin: A triangle.
Eini: What triangle?
Dlatotkin: First – three stories. Second – Father-son-mother, third…
Eini: A mother? Where have you seen a mother?
Dlatotkin: The mother’s dead, but the father’s been emasculated, that is, the stroke, so what’s left? The son, in other words a one-sided triangle.
Eini: (Derisively) Dr. Dlatotkin?
Eini: Not every woman is a mother, just as – forgive me – not every pipe is a phallus.
Dlatotkin: Are you telling me?
Eini: Did you by any chance notice that the woman hinted at the husband’s deception?
Dlatotkin: Of course. In my opinion there is nothing here…
Eini: So if there is a hint of deception in the first act, you can bet on deception appearing in the second.
Dlatotkin: The third.
Eini: (To the Compere) How many acts are there? (Short pause) Hello!
Compere: (Wakes up) What? One. It’s a very short play…
Eini: That’s all? Dlatotkin, you’re attaching too much importance to the plot’s multi-localism and ignoring the fetishist clues that are strewn all over. Shoes, cards, money.
Dlatotkin: Well, that’s what…
Eini: The text attempts – I’m not saying it succeeds – but attempts to dismantle reality and reconstruct it in the form of an apartment house. You ask what it’s about? I’ll tell you what it’s about: (Raises his hand, coughs, and slowly moves it over his head) Death is riding a horse in the sky.
Elisheva: (She is back in the audience) Excuse me.
Compere: What’s that? Who spoke?
Dlatotkin: I think there may be questions from the audience. (To the audience) Yes?
Elisheva: How do you get behind there?
Dlatotkin: (Quietly, to the Compere) What does she mean, ‘How do you get behind there?’
Compere: (To Elisheva in the audience) We didn’t quite understand the question…
Elisheva: How do you get backstage?
Compere: (To the Commentators) Well, perhaps we should stop this fascinating discussion here and we’ll get back to you later. I think the audience is not yet completely…
Dlatotkin: But we haven’t yet…
Compere: Don’t worry, don’t worry.
(Shakes their hands, “Thank you very much”, “It was a pleasure” etc. The Commentators turn to leave)
Dlatotkin: (On the way out) We haven’t yet touched on the point.
Eini: (To Dlatotkin) You didn’t touch on the point!
Compere: (To Elisheva in the audience) What’s the matter?
Elisheva: (Moving towards the stage) I’m sorry to have interrupted the play, but my husband Shmuel’s with you and I’ve got to have him back.
Compere: Your husband Shmuel? There’s no Shmuel here.
Elisheva: Yes, yes, he’s playing cards with his three friends. Never mind, how do I get backstage?
Compere: Come out of the hall and go around. (To the audience) And now we’re going down…
Elisheva: I’ve tried. The door’s locked.
Compere: No, no, it isn’t, give it a push.
Elisheva: I did and it didn’t open.
Compere: Madam, we want to go down to the first floor and you’re not letting us. It opens, it doesn’t open, the show must go on. Go round, you’ll come to the green door and push. I push it open and come inside three times a day and you’re telling me it doesn’t open. You didn’t push it. She’s telling me it won’t open.
(To the audience) And, hop, we go back down to the first floor and meet Osher’s father again.
Scene Five – The Boy
(The Father is in a wheelchair, almost paralyzed, wearing pajamas. Osher stands at his side)
Osher: I’m taking you. You’ve got to see a doctor, not some boy who nobody knows where he came from and what he’s doing here.
Dou you understand what I’m saying? Give me a sign.
(Enter the Boy from downstage, carrying a glass of juice)
Boy: (Happily) Osher…
Osher: I’m taking him.
(Gives the Father a drink from the glass. Short pause)
Boy: (To Osher) You know he won’t agree to go. (To the Father) Was it nice? (Short pause) Good health. (To Osher) Don’t do it. (Exits left)
Osher: (To the Father) How does he know you won’t agree to go? Hey, kid, come here a minute.
(Enter the Boy from downstage carrying a towel)
Boy: We’re just going to have a wash.
Osher: How do you…?
Boy: He told me.
Osher: He’s talking?
Boy: In words?
Osher: In words.
Osher: Not in words?
Osher: With movements?
Boy: He’s paralyzed.
Osher: So how did he tell you? You said he told you. How did he tell you? In short, you’re all talk.
(The Boy goes to undress the Father)
Osher: Well, I’ve got to go. We’ll talk later.
Boy: Are you scared of seeing him without clothes on?
Osher: What’s to be scared of?
Boy: Why are you leaving?
Osher: I’m busy, very busy. I’ve got lots of work. Why am I leaving…
Boy: (To the Father) What?
Boy: (To Osher) He’s worried because he hasn’t seen your wife lately.
Osher: Why hasn’t he seen her? She doesn’t want to bother him, that’s why she doesn’t come down. She sends her regards. She’ll be down.
Boy: (To the Father) What?
Boy: (Listening, close to the Father’s head. To Osher) Do you remember the song you sang when he used to wash your hair?
Osher: What song when he used to wash my hair?
(The Boy puts his head close to the Father’s and listens)
What are you going on about?
Boy: (Begins singing a children’s song to the music that the Compere and Vivi sang at the end of the First Prologue)
Bought a bell
And Osher’s bell
Went ding ding dong
And bim bam bim
Bought a sheep
And Chaimeh’s sheep
Went meh meh meh
And baa baa baa
(Osher moves to the Father and holds his hands)
Bought a donkey
And Osher’s donkey
Went eeya eeya
And whee whee whee
Osher: Daddy… Daddy… (Stands up, restless. To the Father) Do you remember when we came back from the synagogue after my barmitzvah? I wanted to hold your hand, and you said: No, you’re grown up now. And suddenly, all at once… I was alone. I didn’t want to be grown up. I wanted to hold your hand. And now again… (Almost in tears) Daddy… Daddy…
Boy: We’ll be going soon.
Osher: Where to? (Short pause) Who are you?
Boy: Did he tell you anything before he had his fall?
Boy: He said, “Open the door”?
Boy: And the door opened?
Boy: Leave it open.
Osher: I don’t understand.
Boy: Shall we wash him together? Take off his pajamas.
Intermediate Scene – Elisheva Comes Onstage
Elisheva: (Goes back into the audience) I’m sorry, but the green door won’t open.
Compere: (Comes onstage) What happened?
Elisheva: You told me to push the green door.
Elisheva: I can push it till tomorrow, it’s locked. So either you open it for me or I’m coming up onto the stage.
Compere: Pardon me for saying so, Madam, even though the subscriber is always right, there’s a limit to everything and we’re in the middle of a very successful play here, the audience is enjoying it very much and you – if you’ll pardon the expression – are a pain in the ass and you’re talking crap.
Elisheva: You finished?
Compere: For the time being.
Elisheva: I’m coming up onto the stage.
Compere: Who’s coming up onto the stage? Curtain!
(Elisheva gets up onto the stage, the curtain begins to close)
I’m sorry, Madam, but you’re making a fool of yourself.
(Exits downstage, the curtain closes)
Elisheva: (Tries to find a way through the curtain) Shmuel! (Short pause) Shmuel! (To the audience, shading her eyes from the glare of the lights) I can’t see a thing because of the lights but I know you’re all there looking at me. I’m sorry to interrupt, but please try and understand me.
(Again tries to find a way through the curtain, unsuccessfully. To the audience)
Well, it’ll be all right, it will open in the end, right?
(Her voice echoes. Short pause)
My husband’s a very good man, but he’s crazy. If I don’t get him out of there right away he’ll lose his pants with the pockets, and the house keys are in his pocket and all our savings and pensions are in the house.
(The curtain opens)
Intermediate Scene – Interpreting Elisheva
(The curtain opens revealing Dr. Eini and Dr. Dlatotkin, their back to the audience, arguing with the Compere)
Compere: Hoopla! Who opened the curtain? A small glitch.
Dlatotkin: (Turns round and sees Elisheva) Oho!
Eini: Why are you so jumpy?
Dlatotkin: We’ve been taken by surprise.
Compere: No, no, no, no. We’ll be continuing the play right away.
Eini: A little improvisation wouldn’t come amiss.
Compere: If you wouldn’t mind going out…
(The Compere pulls at Dlatotkin’s arm trying to get him out)
Eini: (To Elisheva) May I help you?
Compere: Just a moment. This lady isn’t part…
Elisheva: I’m looking for Shmuel.
Eini: (Astonished, to Dlatotkin) What is this, a poststructuralist text?
Dlatotkin: In my concept of hermeneutics, it is a reference to…
Compere: Excuse me, but this isn’t a text.
Eini: I agree – it’s not a text.
Dlatotkin: A text it isn’t.
Compere: I really do beg your pardon…
Eini: There’s no pardon. (To Dlatotkin) She’s looking for Shmuel.
Dlatotkin: Who’s Shmuel?
Elisheva: He’s my husband, he’s playing…
Eini: (Hushes her) Shhh… (To Dlatotkin) Shmuel is of no interest.
Dlatotkin: I didn’t say that Shmuel is of interest.
Eini: Could you care less who Shmuel is?
Eini: Are you interested in why she’s looking for Shmuel?
Dlatotkin: Yosef, why should I be interested in why she’s looking for Shmuel?
Eini: What interests me is the intertextual pathology of anorexic poetry outlined in a quasi-poetical matrix with pretensions of expressing the ultimate female cry: Where is Shmuel!
Compere: (To Elisheva) See what you’ve done?
Eini: Excuse me, but would an actor in the Russian theatre, for example, speak a line like that: “I’m looking for Shmuel”?
Dlatotkin: In the Russian theatre? Never!
Compere: But this lady isn’t even in the play.
Dlatotkin: (To the Compere) Just a moment. We’re here to talk, right? We’re trying to develop a hypothesis here. Patience.
Eini: (To the Compere, with Dlatotkin) Let me finish, yes, I didn’t interrupt you. You asked me to sit quietly, so I can go home.
(The Compere moves aside in despair)
(To the audience) “To be or not to be”, “My kingdom for a horse”, and – “I’m looking for Shmuel”?
Elisheva: (Who is now onstage, shouting) Shmuel!
Eini: Instead of Orpheus calling for Eurydice, some woman’s shouting “Shmuel!”
Dlatotkin: (With an ironic smile) You’re hinting at an idea borrowed from Greek mythology?
Eini: Dlatotkin… (Raises his hand, coughs, passes it over his head) Death is riding a horse in the sky. (To the Compere) The floor is yours.
Dlatotkin: (To the Compere) Look, interpretation fills the space between language and reality. Do you think that I with my paunch can fit in here…? We must expand. (Exits)
Compere: (To the audience) Some slight confusion. But we have no choice, we must press on.
Elisheva: (To the Compere) Where’s my husband?
Compere: Where are you?
Elisheva: What do you mean, where am I? I’m here.
Compere: No, no, you primitive woman, you’re there.
(Points at the empty seat in the audience)
Elisheva: What do you mean, I’m there?
Compere: I mean that if you’re here you’re confusing the issue, do you understand?
Elisheva: Not a word.
Compere: Pity. But you will. And the hard way. Because there it’s happy, here it’s a nightmare. You don’t want to go back to your seat?
Elisheva: I want my husband.
Compere: (To the audience) I would like to present once more the stars of the Khan Theatre to affirm the Dance of Happiness for us.
(Enter the actors and perform the Dance of Happiness. Elisheva becomes entangled with them until the end of the dance, and when the actors exit she is kneeling, shielding her head with her hands. Enter Shmuel behind her. She rushes to him, a curtain shifts, Shmuel vanishes to be replaced by Osher. She moves away from him, a curtain shifts, and Osher is replaced by Vivi. From here begins a fantasy in which all the play’s characters take part. It is a kind of dance — a nightmare of changing characters and situations, at the end of which Elisheva finds herself in the basement facing the Compere, while behind her the four card players sit down at the table)
Elisheva: (To the Compere) Where’s my husband?
(The Compere points at the card players, she turns round. Exit the Compere)
Scene Six – Enter Elisheva
(The four card players are in the middle of a game)
Shmuel: (Spreading his cards) Queen high straight! (He rakes in the money)
Elisheva: (Enters) Shmuel!
(The four look at her, stunned)
CO: Who’s this?
Shmuel: My wife. Elisheva, meet…
Plotnik: Where did she spring from?
CO: (To Elisheva) Pleased to meet you.
Shmuel: This is the Commanding Officer.
Elisheva: Pleased to meet you.
Elisheva: Pleased to meet you.
Man 3: Man 3.
Shmuel: They met him in the desert during the war. He’d lost his memory. He even forgot his own name, that’s why we call him Man 3.
Elisheva: Pleased to meet you. Come on home.
Shmuel: How did you get here? (Short pause) Look guys, I’ve got to go.
(They all look at him. Pause)
Hold on, Elisheva, I’m in a delicate situation here. (To the players) We can arrange to meet tomorrow.
Elisheva: Not tomorrow. Forget tomorrow.
Shmuel: Just a minute, Elisheva. (To the players) So we’ll play again tomorrow, I’ll come with all the money.
Plotnik: I can’t tomorrow.
Shmuel: Then the day after. Saturday night.
Man 3: I don’t play on Saturday evenings (Puts on a yarmulke)
CO: You’re winning and you’re leaving?
Plotnik: That’s not like you, Shmuel.
Elisheva: Look, I want to tell you something. It’s an obsession with him. This game is ruining our life. He probably hasn’t told you, but we once lost our home. It gets out of his control. It’s an obsession. I’m begging you, let him go.
CO: Look, lady, that’s not how it works. We’ve lost a lot of money here. What’s this obsession? We don’t have an obsession? Is there anyone who doesn’t have an obsession? Plotnik here, every month he buys all the special offers from his credit card company. That’s not an obsession?
Plotnik: Lady, this month I bought a sphygmomanometer that was on offer. Have I got high blood pressure? No. Do I need high blood pressure? No. I bought it. What’s to be done, it’s an obsession. And not only that, they said they’d supply it within ten working days and on the second day I called them three times to ask why it hadn’t come yet. What can I do? You tell me it’s an obsession.
CO: I’ll be right back (Exits)
Man 3: What’s with him today?
Plotnik: And Man 3 too – he doesn’t remember his name or who his mother is. He just remembers the names of new models of electrical appliances. So what do you say to that?
Man 3: (Starts off logically and gradually loses control) Sony DSP twenty-nine inch flat screen, Panasonic NV six hundred and fifty-one, JVC model JID, Toshiba Satellite Sentieno, immediate delivery, General Electric Normandie refrigerator three hundred and forty liters, Amana SBS six hundred and twenty liters plus kiosk SBS…
Plotnik: (Leads Man 3 out) Do you understand now?
Man 3: Classic hot and cold Minibar from H twenty, G-Vent circular stainless steel extractor hood delivery within seventy-two hours…
(They exit. Short pause)
Elisheva: Let’s go, do you hear me, let’s go.
Shmuel: Listen, Elisheva, I’ve won a great deal of money. What I always wanted has finally happened. Another few minutes and we’re fixed up for life. I’ll play for small stakes, there’s no chance I’ll lose what I’ve won, and then I promise you that this will be the last time I’ll ever play. Give me another hour.
Elisheva: Shmuel, you’re not playing for even one more minute. Just remember that when you played in Jericho it was the last time too. “Let’s go”, I told you, and you told me, “Another few minutes”, remember?
Shmuel: That was different.
Elisheva: No it wasn’t. I pleaded with you and you went on playing because you thought that in another few minutes you’d break the bank and set yourself up for life. You told me it was the last time then, remember? (Kisses him) Remember?
Shmuel: That was different.
Elisheva: It wasn’t different. We left in the morning without a home. Do you remember or not? You lost our home.
Shmuel: I remember.
Elisheva: Do you want that to happen again? (Pause) Let’s go.
(He hesitates, goes to the table and takes his money. Enter Plotnik and Man 3. He freezes)
Man 3: I had another attack. Isn’t the CO back yet?
(Shmuel sits at the table and so do Plotnik and Man 3)
(Shmuel gets up and gives Elisheva his hand. They turn to leave. The sound of the door opening is heard. They stop. Enter the CO who moves towards Shmuel, Shmuel backs away, the CO sits down at the table, the three look at Shmuel, Plotnik deals the cards)
Shmuel: (To Elisheva) Wait for me outside.
Elisheva: I’m not waiting outside. I’m not budging.
Shmuel: Elisheva, I’m asking you…
Shmuel: Another five minutes, you can see what’s happening here.
Elisheva: (Moves to the table) Listen to me a minute. I’m begging you. You’re right that it’s not fair that he leaves when he’s winning so much money off you. He’ll leave it all and we’re going.
Shmuel: I’m not leaving them all my winnings, really…
Elisheva: So come without leaving your winnings. Goodbye.
(She tries to pull him away)
CO: Hold on there. What “goodbye”? Don’t you tell me “goodbye” I’ll tell you “goodbye” in a minute. Through the window. You’re playing with fire here, lady, because we can be ever so nice until we’re suddenly not very nice, and then we’re not nice at all. Got it?
(They all sit down. Shmuel joins them)
Compere: (Enters, stage right) You can’t sit quietly in your seat and watch a play, this is where all the troubles of the human race begin. Sadly, we are forced to leave this scene that was very promising until that lady… Well, no matter, we’ll leave the basement, walk up exactly sixteen steps to the first floor and arrive just at the moment that the son, Osher, finally sees something.
Scene Seven – The Farewell
(Music. The Boy leads the Father, who is leaning on him, to a wooden stool and sits him down. By the stool is a bowl of water. He washes the Father’s body with a cloth. Then he takes some water and pours it over the Father’s head. The Father’s hands are moving. Osher moves a little closer, looks at his father in amazement, and stops. The Boy pours more water over the Father’s head and again the Father’s hands move. The Boy takes the bowl and hands it to Osher. He dips his hand into the bowl and sprinkles water on the Father’s face. The Boy moves away slightly and looks at the Father. The Father slowly gets up and moves towards Osher. He dips his hands into the bowl and sprinkles water onto his son’s head. Osher smiles. The Father repeats the action. The Boy moves to them, takes the bowl, the Father and Osher embrace. The Boy takes a big white towel from the back of the wheelchair and places it over the Father’s back. He puts his hands onto the Father’s shoulders, moves him away from his son and takes him downstage. The Father stops and looks at Osher. The Boy moves him again. Again the Father stops, looks at Osher who hangs one edge of the towel over the back of the wheelchair as the Boy holds the other edge. The Father is concealed behind the towel. Lighting up from behind. A child’s voice is heard singing the song the Boy sang earlier, as the Father performs a kind of silhouette show with his hands. The singing stops and the lighting goes down. The Father gets up and the Boy wraps him up in the towel. They both turn to leave the stage, the Father turns to Osher in a gesture of farewell, a rear curtain shifts – the Father vanishes. The Boy is seen in the form of an angel looking at Osher. The Boy turns and exits. Osher moves to the wheelchair, kneels and lays his head on it)
Scene Eight – Shmuel Loses
(Man 3 and Shmuel are sitting at the table as in Scene Three, Plotnik is standing at the left of the apron counting his money. The CO is standing at the right of the apron looking upwards. Elisheva is watching them from behind)
Plotnik: How much are you ahead?
CO: Fifteen thousand.
Plotnik: (To Man 3) You?
Man 3: Ten thousand. You?
Plotnik: Eighty thousand.
(The three laugh)
Shmuel: Hold on there, the night’s still young.
CO: Did you deal?
(The CO sits down)
Elisheva: (To Shmuel) Should I get you something to drink? (To Plotnik) Can I make him something to drink?
Plotnik: The kitchen’s through there.
Elisheva: (To Shmuel) I’ll make you some tea.
CO: Coffee for me.
Plotnik: Me too. (He sits down)
Man 3: I’m hungry.
Elisheva: I can fix you something. (To Plotnik) Have you got any vegetables or…?
Plotnik: Look in the fridge.
Man 3: Two.
Shmuel: I’ll take three.
(Deals to himself)
Man 3: (Antes) A thousand.
Plotnik: (Antes) Your thousand and another two.
CO: Your two and another four.
Man 3: (Antes) Your six thousand and another six.
Plotnik: (Antes) Call.
CO: (Antes) Your six and another six.
Shmuel: (Antes) Call.
Man 3: (Antes) Me too.
CO: Let’s see them.
Man 3: Full house, kings up.
Shmuel: (Holds his head and yells) Dammit to hell…
Plotnik: Full house.
Man 3: (Throws down his cards angrily) Ach…
(Rakes in the money)
Plotnik: See? (To Man 3) A happy man.
(Enter Elisheva carrying a tray with three cups)
Elisheva: A hot drink…
(She serves tea to Shmuel and coffee to Plotnik and the CO)
I’m making a salad and eggs, who’d like some?
Man 3: An omelet.
Plotnik: Two eggs, sunny side up, and make sure the yellow isn’t runny.
CO: An omelet for me.
Elisheva: (To Shmuel) Have you got any money left?
CO: Who’s deal is it?
Man 3: Mine.
Elisheva: (To Shmuel) I’ll make you a scrambled egg the way you like it, all right? (To all) Can I put some onion into the salad?
All: (Together) Yes. Sure. Of course.
(Exit Elisheva. The doorbell rings)
Plotnik: Who could that be?
CO: Open it.
(Exit Plotnik. The door is heard opening and closing. Enter Vivi followed by Plotnik. Vivi looks around the room and at the people there)
CO: Meet the neighbor from upstairs.
Shmuel: Pleased to meet you. Shmuel.
Man 3: Man 3.
CO: Shmuel, go help your wife in the kitchen for a moment.
Vivi: (Sits down) It’s about my husband.
CO: The lady’s talked to me. She wants our help. I told her I’ve got experience from my army days.
Plotnik: Where is the husband?
Vivi: At his father’s, one floor up.
CO: Do you mind popping up there and getting him?
(Exit Man 3 and Plotnik. Enter Elisheva with plates of eggs and salad)
Elisheva: The food’s ready.
(Enter Shmuel, looks around. Elisheva too is surprised by the change in the human scene)
Should I bring another plate?
Scene Nine – Surgical Strike
(Music. Osher is kneeling by his father’s empty wheelchair. Enter Plotnik and Man 3. They look at Osher)
Plotnik: He’s big.
Man 3: A knife in the neck and he’s small. (Draws a knife)
Plotnik: You’re right.
(They approach Osher. Suddenly they hear a sound to the right)
Compere: (Off) That’s impossible, not now, out of the question.
Man 3: (To Plotnik) There’s somebody here.
(The music stops. Exit Man 3 quickly. Plotnik moves closer and peeps in the direction of the voices. The Compere’s voice is heard)
Compere: (Off, as if whispering) Please, not now, not now.
Compere: (Enters, speaking to somebody behind the scenes) I’ll introduce you after this scene.
(Looks around despairingly. Plotnik looks at him and hides downstage)
Compere: (To Osher who raises his head at the noise) The assassins are on the way… (To the audience) In a few seconds time you will see a surprising, brutal murder scene. The unworried victim does not imagine that in another second a knife will be plunged into his back…
(Enter Dr. Eini. The Compere pushes him off)
Please, wait for just one more scene.
Eini: (Struggling with him) Excuse me, but we agreed that we were to accompany the play.
Compere: We’re in the middle of an extremely nerve-racking scene.
Eini: (Freeing himself) Precisely. (Calls off) Dlatotkin! (To the Compere and the audience) We have here a scene that is significant to the narrative, the Father is dead, the Son, lying at the feet of his father’s empty wheelchair faces, for the first time in his life, the great void that the departure of the super ego has left. The child’s longing to suckle from the father’s breast. How can we permit this silent scene of fetishist loneliness not to undergo deconstruction? How?
Compere: Two criminals are waiting outside to finish him, the audience isn’t interested in your talk right now.
Dlatotkin: (Enters) What’s going on?
Eini: Where were you when they’re trying to gag us?
Dlatotkin: In the bathroom.
Compere: Look, I’m being completely candid with you. We’re just before the murder scene, the audience is tense. I’m asking you both to please leave the stage.
Eini: We’re not leaving.
Compere: What do you mean, “not leaving”?
Dlatotkin: (Together with Eini) You invited us to accompany this play with commentary, and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re not puppets you invite to sit there like stuffed animals and nod their heads. We have an interdisciplinary agenda and we want to provide a multi-focal perspective on the matrix you’re trying to show to your imaginary community.
Eini: (Together with Dlatotkin) You are a public theatre and artistic institution that is bound to a certain culture, to a minimal standard of intertextuality, which is why you invited us to interpret the deconstructionist poetics of your play, and that is what we shall do.
Compere: Well fuck you both. You’re both sonsofbitches. I’m not interested in your opinion of the play.
Dlatotkin: (Regaining his composure) We’re not interested in the play.
Compere: I’m not interested that you’re not interested in the play.
Dlatotkin: I’m not interested that you’re not interested in that we’re not interested in the play. (To Dr. Eini) Look, it’s beneath my dignity to talk to him. (To the Compere) I’ve got a regular slot on Channel Seventeen’s culture program, every morning at 6.20 a.m., with a repeat at 2 a.m., do I need them? It’s been a pleasure. (Exits)
Eini: (To the Compere) Don’t be insulted, he’s a moron.
Compere: Are you telling me?
Eini: (To the Compere and the audience) When I see a meaningful work of art…
Compere: (About to blow up) Not now.
Eini: I’m always grateful. Because everything that’s done in the sphere of art is part of an infinite fight for life… and the great artist helps us to shoulder this heavy burden. He offers us his hand in the exhausting, cruel, existential effort.
Compere: Thank you, that’s very moving…
Eini: (To the Compere) That is not the case with your play.
(Enter Plotkin from behind, a knife in his hand)
Eini: Because it isn’t a play. It’s a shambles. Intertextual chaos. Everything is random, there’s no vital connection between the words and the action… it’s a shambles.
(He raises his hand over his head. Plotnik approaches him and plunges the knife into his back. As he collapses, his hand frozen above his head, Eini blurts out:)
Death is riding a horse in the sky. (He falls)
Compere: (Who has not seen Plotnik until this moment, hysterically) What have you done? Have you killed him?
Plotnik: Mister, he was holding up my work.
Compere: But what am I to do with him? What am I to do with the body?
Plotnik: I’ll get rid of it.
Compere: Then get rid of it. God in heaven, this play’s called “Osher’, “Happiness”, I’ll be sued for fraud.
(Plotnik drags the body off)
Plotnik: Man 3’s taking care of the other one. What his name?
Compere: Dr. Dlatotkin?
Plotkin: The one that doesn’t flush the toilet.
Compere: (Mops sweat from his brow) Well, a short delay in that scene, so we’ll leave poor Osher alone in his grief, go back down to the basement and then come back.
Scene Ten – The Meal is Ready
(The table is laid, the CO and Vivi are eating. Elisheva brings something else to the table while Shmuel is standing behind)
CO: (To Elisheva and Shmuel) Would you mind waiting in the kitchen?
(Exit Elisheva and Shmuel)
Vivi: It’s a pity there’s no wine.
CO: Don’t you drink vodka?
Vivi: I’ll try.
(She drinks and grimaces. Sound of the door opening. Plotnik drags in Dr. Eini’s body. The CO looks at it)
Plotnik: Sorry for butting in. I’m just putting him in the kitchen.
CO: Who is he?
Plotnik: A guy who got in the way.
(Exits with the body)
Vivi: He’s a character, that Plotnik.
CO: We’re like that – since our army days.
(Crosses his fingers. Elisheva and Shmuel come out of the kitchen)
Elisheva: (Stunned, to the CO) I’m sorry, but I can’t stay with that body.
CO: Go into that room there.
(Elisheva turns to exit)
Shmuel: (To the CO) We’re carrying on with the game, right?
CO: Why not? The night’s still young.
(Exit Shmuel and Elisheva)
CO: (After them) Just close the door.
Plotnik: I’m going to see to the other one.
CO: What about the husband?
Plotnik: One at a time, I’ve only got one pair of hands.
(Exits. Sound of the door closing)
Vivi: What did you do in the army?
CO: What did I do in the army? (Short pause) We were pioneers.
CO: Pioneers. We were up early in the morning for milking, after breakfast we drove the tractor to plough the fields…(Sings) Oh, the fields in the valley. After lunch – picking oranges. In the evening, at the clubhouse, we talked about values, argued, and again to the cowshed for the last milking… (Sings) Come along, little dogie… And at night we’d light a bonfire, sing and do folkdances. (Gets up) You know what I remember most from my army days? The smell. The smell of the soil after rain, the smell of the wheat after the harvest…
(Sound of the door opening. Man 3 drags Dr. Dlatotkin inside)
The orange blossom… the smell of the cows, to get up in the morning…
Man 3: (As he drags Dlatotkin) Where should I put him?
CO: In the kitchen, the kitchen.
(Man 3 drags the body into the kitchen)
CO: (To Vivi) To get up in the morning, go out into the clean air, the trees and grass, it fills you up.
(Enter Man 3)
CO: (To Man 3) Are there any more?
Man 3: Just the husband.
Man 3: Yes, yes.
(Exits. Sound of the door closing)
CO: Would you like anything else?
Vivi: Coffee, perhaps.
CO: What’s her name in there? (Calls) Hey, you!
(Enter Elisheva followed by Shmuel)
Elisheva: I can’t go into the kitchen.
CO: What do you mean, “can’t”? I want some coffee.
Shmuel: I’ll make it.
(He goes into the kitchen)
CO: (To Elisheva) You can’t clear the table either?
(Elisheva clears the table)
Vivi: Thank you.
CO: Let’s go into the other room until the coffee’s ready.
(They exit. Enter Shmuel, Elisheva sits down and cries)
Scene Eleven – Elisheva and Shmuel
(Elisheva is weeping bitterly. Shmuel goes to her and hesitantly puts his hand on her shoulder)
Shmuel: Do you want to go?
Elisheva: I won’t have a moment’s peace if I leave you here. And if anything happens to you I won’t have a day free of guilt.
Shmuel: (Hugs her shoulders) Elisheva, every time I went to play and lied to you, all the times I went to play and lost, I always told myself – I’ll win so much that we’ll be able to live the rest of our life in peace. You’d be able to buy whatever you wanted…
Elisheva: (Interrupts him and shoves him away) You were only thinking of yourself.
Shmuel: That’s not true.
Elisheva: Yes it is.
Shmuel: I was thinking of you.
Elisheva: Only of yourself.
Shmuel: I love you, I love you more than anything.
Elisheva: Shmuel, Shmuel! It’s a very strange love!
Shmuel: You’re an ingrate.
(The CO comes out of the other room)
CO: Excuse me, but the noise is disturbing us.
Shmuel: (Quieter, but angrily) I hate you when you tell me not to play.
Elisheva: Only last week our daughter said: Is this what’s come of you and your husband? Is that what’s come of us, this bizarre race after money?
Shmuel: I love her, but you haven’t gotten a great deal of joy from her either. More like worries and frustration and disappointment.
Elisheva: So it’s only money?
Shmuel: Not only money.
Elisheva: Not only money? So what are you running after?
Shmuel: A few days ago I dreamt I was looking for you in a maze of mirrors, and I found you and rushed after you, and then, boom, I crashed into the glass. You were behind me.
Elisheva: You make my life a misery. You paint my whole life black.
Shmuel: I wanted you to be happy.
Elisheva: You made me miserable!
Shmuel: (To himself) If you want to be happy, don’t go looking for your wife in a mirror.
Elisheva: Do you understand that if we don’t get up and leave right now, we’re finished?
Elisheva: You’ll lose all the money again…
Shmuel: I’ve already lost it, now I can only win.
Elisheva: (Laughs despairingly) How can such an intelligent man be so stupid! You’ll lose more, you’ll lose everything, they’ll skin you alive. Anyway, they’re not going to let us go after everything we’ve seen here.
Shmuel: Elisheva, I can’t leave now after losing so much money. Things can only get better, there’s nothing left to get any worse.
Scene Twelve – Osher
(The basement. Shmuel and Elisheva at the table. Plotnik and Man 3 burst in)
Plotnik: Where’s the CO?
(The CO comes out of the room followed by Vivi)
Man 3: He’s vanished.
CO: What do you mean, “vanished”?
Plotnik: He’s not there. He was there. He’s not there.
CO: (To Vivi) We’ll wait. (Goes to the table, picks up the vodka, to Vivi) More vodka?
Compere: (Enters) Dr. Eini and Dr. Dlatotkin, of blessed memory, complicated matters. We are now compelled to stop time and shift back one scene to see how our Osher vanished. Back to the first floor.
(Curtain shift. The Father’s apartment. Osher is lying down, his head on the wheelchair. Enter the Boy from the back room)
Osher, get up.
(Osher raises his head and looks at the Boy)
Your wife, your beloved, is captive in an insane dream. Two people are coming to kill you. Get away from here.
(Osher gets up, they turn to leave. Sound of the door opening. They stop, retreat and hide. Enter Plotnik and Man 3)
Plotnik: Where is he?
Man 3: He’s got to be here someplace.
(Music. They search scene, in slapstick style. The two pursuers split up and search for Osher. Osher and the Boy try to get out of the apartment, but at each attempt they encounter one of the pursuers, hide, and so forth. At a certain stage Man 3 pulls out a cell phone and dials. The phone rings, off)
Plotnik: (Off) Hello?
Man 3: Plotnik? Where are you?
Plotnik: (Off) Who’s that?
Man 3: 3. Who’s that?
Plotnik: (Off) Ah, what’s happening?
Man 3: Where are you?
Plotnik: (Off) The bathroom.
Man 3: Find anything?
Plotnik: (Off) I can’t hear you.
Man 3: (Disconnects) Where’s the bathroom…(Exits)
Plotnik: (Enters) Hello? Hello? (Enter Osher. To Osher) I can’t hear a thing. Come here… (Osher flees, Plotnik follows)
(At the end of the chase Plotnik and Man 3 meet)
Man 3: He got away from you.
Plotnik: Got away from me?
(Man 3 gestures towards the door and exits)
Plotnik: What are you shouting about?
(They exit. Sound of the door closing. Osher and the Boy emerge from hiding)
Osher: Where’s my wife?
Boy: In the basement.
Osher: The basement? I’ve got an idea. Come on.
(They exit. Curtain shift)
Compere: We’re going back to the basement too and we’re nearing the climax. Osher goes on the offensive.
(Curtain shift. The basement. Plotnik and Man 3 are seated, Shmuel is clearing the table, Elisheva is standing behind, the CO and Vivi are clinking glasses of vodka)
CO: I wonder where your husband vanished to.
(Shmuel exits to the kitchen. The doorbell rings. Plotnik and Man 3 get up. Shmuel stops)
(Plotnik goes to open the door. Enter the Boy followed by Plotnik)
Boy: (To Vivi) Excuse me, is this shoe yours?
CO: Who’s this?
Vivi: I think so.
Boy: Your husband, Osher, found it and asked me to put it on for you. (He puts it on her foot. Shmuel comes back from the kitchen) You’re Osher’s wife.
CO: Soon to be his widow.
Vivi: Where’s my husband?
Boy: On the way.
CO: (To Plotnik) Get the gun.
(Exit Plotnik to the other room. CO to the Boy)
Where is he? (Grabs him around the neck) Where is he?
Boy: (Turns his head away) Don’t breathe on me, please.
CO: Do I stink?
Boy: I’m scared of being infected.
CO: By what? I’m not sick. Infected by what?
(The CO releases him. Enter Plotnik carrying a pistol wrapped in a cloth. He opens the cloth and gives the weapon to the CO)
Plotnik: There’s only two rounds left.
CO: That’s enough. Take him into the other room and persuade him to tell you where the husband is.
(Plotnik grabs the Boy and pushes him towards the room)
Plotnik: Where’s your friend?
(Man 3 and Plotnik drag the Boy)
Boy: (To Vivi) I want to see the promise through the disappointment.
Vivi: Where’s Osher?
Boy: On the way
(The three exit. The doorbell rings)
CO: Shmuel, get the door.
(Shmuel goes to open it, the CO draws the gun. Sound of the door opening and closing. Shmuel returns)
Shmuel: There’s nobody there.
CO: Your husband’s playing games with us.
(Sound of a blow from the other room and a choked shout from the Boy)
Plotnik: (Off) Where is he?
(Another blow and a louder yell)
Where is he?
CO: Put some music on.
Plotnik: I’ve only got that old record.
CO: That’ll do.
(Exit Plotnik. Blows and shouts are heard from the other room)
CO: (To Vivi) Would you like to dance?
Vivi: Why not?
CO: (To Shmuel and Elisheva) Would you mind clearing the dance floor?
(Shmuel moves the tables and chairs to the side of the room, the CO moves to Vivi. Shouts are heard. To the other room)
Where’s the music?
Plotnik: (Off) It’s coming, it’s coming.
(From the other room come the sounds of an old Yaffa Yarkoni song on a scratchy record. The CO and Vivi dance. As they dance, Vivi bumps into Elisheva who hides her face in her hands)
Vivi: I’m drunk.
(From the other room, shouts. Enter Plotnik)
Plotnik: (To Shmuel) What’s her name?
Plotnik: (To Elisheva) Elisheva, have you got a moment?
(Hesitantly, Elisheva follows him into the other room)
CO: (Dancing) Who’s that kid your husband sent us?
(Enter Elisheva from the other room dressed in her underclothes, frightened and weeping)
(Shmuel rushes to her and tries to embrace her. She shoves him away. Enter Plotnik)
CO: What’s going on?
Plotnik: Meet Shmuel’s new wife.
(Man 3 pushes the Boy inside. He is wearing Elisheva’s clothes)
Plotnik: (To Shmuel) What did you say her name was?
Man 3: Her name’s Elisheva. Dance with her, Shmuel.
(Shmuel tries to embrace Elisheva again)
Plotnik: Dance with her, he told you.
(Plotnik goes to Shmuel, pulls him away from Elisheva and leads him to the Boy. Shmuel stands paralyzed, and then faints)
Elisheva: (Rushes to him) Shmuel!
(They look at the collapsed Shmuel. Plotnik goes to the Boy)
Plotnik: (Pulling the Boy to him) Well, if nobody wants to dance with you, Elisheva, I will, Elisheva.
(Forces the Boy to dance with him. Every now and then he slaps him and shouts: “Where is he?” Man 3 and the CO applaud. After a while:)
CO: (To Man 3) Stop the music.
(Exit Man 3, the music stops, the CO goes to the Boy lying on the floor)
What do you need this for? Tell us where he’s gone.
(Man 3 comes back and goes to the Boy, as does Plotkin)
Boy: (Smiling with difficulty) Beyond the mountains of laundry.
Boy: Beyond the mounds of dirty cutlery in the sink.
CO: (To Vivi) Do you understand what he’s saying?
Vivi: (Moves closer) What did you try and see? What promise? What disappointment?
(Shmuel begins to come round, Elisheva pulls him towards the door)
Boy: I tried seeing you at twenty years old, when you fell in love with Osher, your husband.
Vivi: What did you see?
Boy: I didn’t. The smoke in the kitchen concealed it.
Plotnik: What’s he on about?
Man 3: I didn’t get it.
Boy: (To Vivi) They’re waiting for you for dinner.
CO: He’s got some nerve.
Boy: Your husband, his father, your parents… it’s their wedding anniversary.
(The doorbell rings. Pause. Shmuel and Elisheva freeze)
CO: (To Plotnik) Get it.
(He draws the gun. Sound of the door opening and closing. Plotnik returns)
Plotnik: Nobody there.
CO: (Smiling) He’s trying something.
Elisheva: I’m taking him home.
(Plotnik blocks her way)
Elisheva: Let us out!
(Plotnik looks at the CO)
CO: Let her go.
(Plotnik lets her through. She leads Shmuel gently)
Elisheva: Come on, carefully. We’re leaving.
(They start moving towards the door. The CO gives the gun to Man 3 and indicates that he should follow them. Exit Man 3. The Boy gets up and buries his face in his hands. A shot is heard followed by a scream from Elisheva and her weeping. Man 3 comes back and hands the gun to the CO)
CO: (To Vivi) I’m sorry. This story’s getting dirty. I don’t want that. (To Plotnik and Man 3) I’m fighting for my love of Vivi here. Can there be a more just war?
(The doorbell rings)
Follow him, pursue him, get him, on the top floor, in the yard, don’t come back without him.
Both: Yes, sir.
(They exit. Sound of the door opening and slamming shut. Then the sound of a window being smashed)
CO: (To Vivi) He’s trying to get in through the back window.
(Points the gun at the Boy)
Get into that room and shut the door behind you.
(Exit the Boy. The CO goes towards the noise. Enter Osher, his hand bound in a handkerchief. He is chalk white and trembling)
Osher: Here I am. I cut myself on the glass. (Enter Elisheva, her underclothes and hands bloodstained. Pause. Osher to Vivi) Come home.
(Pause. Vivi moves downstage to where the CO exited. Osher grabs her and pulls her back)
What are you doing?
(Pause. He sits down next to Elisheva)
Do you want to kill me? You sent people to kill me? (To Elisheva) She sent people to kill me. (To Vivi) Why? We’re married. (Short pause. To Elisheva) She never talks, never says a word, go figure what’s going on in her head.
Vivi: (Almost to herself) She doesn’t say a word, yeah, right… You’re deaf!
Osher: (To Elisheva) What’s she saying? (To Vivi) You want to split up? There are more conventional ways. Do you want a divorce?
Vivi: Don’t make a scene in front of everybody.
Osher: Why didn’t you talk to me? Why didn’t you say, “I want to split up”?
Vivi: I’m asking you to stop shouting.
Osher: That’s a reason to kill?
Vivi: Stop whining.
Osher: (To Elisheva) Whining? She sent half the Mafia to rub me out! She’s forgotten all the…
(Elisheva directs him towards Vivi)
You’re forgetting all the nights we walked the streets hand in hand, embracing, when you told me that I was the only great love you’d ever had…
Vivi: But what are you… oh, come on, Osher, look…
Osher: Let me finish. I didn’t interrupt you, so don’t interrupt me. You want to kill all the… all the… all the poems I wrote for you? The notes you left me on the fridge? All the winter nights we lay under the blankets shivering with cold and dying of laughter? The teddy bear I bought you, our wedding anniversary, all the trips, do you remember the evening we got lost in that dark, scary quarter in Paris? Have you forgotten the kitten you brought home? Where will all our kisses go, all the cups of coffee I brought you in bed… all our quarrels… it’s a crime against humanity! Do you know what you’re doing?
Vivi: (Sadly) What you’re doing is just demagoguery. All that stuff, the poems, the nights, Paris, the cats, I know all about it. (To Elisheva) All his little reactions, the laughs, the jokes, his body (To Osher) I know your body by heart. We’ve got to move on, understand me too, I want to be happy. (To Elisheva) He’s so egocentric. (To Osher) Take a look in the passage.
(Osher looks, starts)
Osher: Oh! What is it? My god! A body.
Elisheva: It’s my husband Shmuel, of blessed memory.
Vivi: That’s a man who deceived his wife.
Elisheva: Just a minute…
Osher: I’m not deceiving you. I’ve never deceived you.
Vivi: Not quite, Osher. You found the shoes I left in the yard and the stairwell and you thought, they probably belong to some hot babe. I know and you know that I know and I know that you know that I know. You said to yourself, I’ll find the foot for this shoe, and after the foot will come the hips and finally the heart. And if that’s not exactly deception, real deception will come later.
Elisheva: Can I tell you something?
Vivi: Just a minute.
Elisheva: (To Vivi) You’re making a big mistake in your understanding of life.
Vivi: What does she want of my life now?
Osher: Listen to her, she’s an experienced woman.
Elisheva: Love is like a mountain you decide to climb. Have you ever seen a mountaineer who says in the middle of the climb, “No, this mountain’s no good, I’ll find another one”? You choose love just once. And once you’ve chosen it you don’t abandon it. Do hear what I’m saying, Vivi? You don’t abandon it. If you have to, then you die on the slope like a mountaineer. Do you understand?
Vivi: And what about happiness?
Elisheva: I’ll tell you what happiness is. I was married to that man lying there for twenty-five years, a man who deceived his wife and lied to her and made her life a misery, and the moment I heard the shot, in one second, all my anger disappeared. Without trace. But then I wanted to hug him again, and when I bent down to him – there was no pulse. Do you want to do yourself a favor? Don’t wait for death to open your eyes. (Weeps) I miss him already, all his little reactions, the laughs, the jokes, his body that I knew by heart. Do you know why I was angry? Because I wanted to be happy. And I’ll tell you something else, you spoiled, stupid girl: There was nothing that made us both miserable more than the desire to be happy. You want happiness? (Points at Osher) There it is – Osher
CO: (Enters from behind with his gun drawn) Don’t move! (To Elisheva) Go into the other room.
Elisheva: I won’t. You can shoot me.
CO: (Moves to her aiming the gun at her) You’re in luck. I’ve only got one bullet left and I’m keeping it for the husband.
Osher: (To Vivi, quietly) I’m not scared of him. I’m scared of you. (Short pause) Suddenly I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of what’s dead.
(The Boy comes out of the room as an angel)
Osher: (To Vivi) Come home.
Osher: (Keeping his eyes on Vivi) Yes.
Elisheva: You’re beginning to climb a mountain.
Osher: (Keeping his eyes on Vivi) I know.
(He starts moving towards Vivi)
CO: Don’t move!
Osher: I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid.
Osher: (To Vivi) Come home.
(Comes close to Vivi)
Vivi: Osher, stop, he’ll kill you.
Osher: I love you.
Vivi: It’s been a long time since I heard those words…
Osher: You’re hearing them now.
Vivi: Stop, please, stop.
Osher: (Comes close to her) I’m taking you home and nothing’s going to stop me. Come home.
CO: Touch her and you’re dead.
Vivi: (Hides her face in her hands) Osher!
(Osher holds out his hand to Vivi, the CO fires and Osher falls. Exit the Boy. Vivi bends over Osher)
Vivi: (Cradling his head) My Osher, my Osher…
(The Angel slowly hovers above them)
Elisheva: Death is riding a horse in the sky…
Epilogue – Dinner
(Vivi is dozing at a long, laid table. Noise from the kitchen. The sound of a door opening and closing. Vivi wakes up. Enter the Technician)
Technician: I’ve fixed the dish, check it.
(Vivi uses the remote control. From the TV comes the sound of a Hollywood movie finale)
Vivi: It’s the end of the movie.
(She turns off the TV)
Technician: Pardon me for saying so, but is something burning?
Vivi: (Alarmed) The soup!
(She gets up quickly and goes into the kitchen)
Technician: It smells good.
Vivi: I think I’ve burnt the soup.
Technician: Don’t worry, isn’t burnt soup still soup? Soup. It’s better than shawarma.
Vivi: (Enters carrying food) Ah. It’s late, they’ll all be here in a minute.
(They go into the kitchen)
Technician: It’s not that I’m hinting you should invite me to eat, but even if you did it’s almost certain that I couldn’t accept because maybe there’ll be another repair, not that far away…
(Short pause. Vivi comes in quickly, puts a salad bowl onto the table and runs out)
I’m like those old-fashioned doctors. I come, cure, and leave. A television doctor, but still a doctor.
(Short pause. Enter Vivi with a bread basket and a jug of water, puts them onto the table and exits. Sound of the door opening and slamming shut. Enter Osher)
(The Technician and Osher shake hands)
Technician. Hello. Are you Mr. Boganim?
Osher: Almost. I live one floor down.
Technician: Ah, I fixed your TV too. Who is that, your father?
(Enter Vivi with another bowl)
Vivi: Dinner’s ready. (To the Technician) How much do I owe you?
Technician: No, no, it’s covered by the insurance.
Osher: (Towards the kitchen) Sorry I’m late, I had this nudnik in the office who didn’t want to leave.
Technician: I know how it is. Sometimes somebody comes in, some small thing to fix, and doesn’t want to go.
Osher: Yes… (Towards the kitchen) Is something burning?
Technician: Yes, yes, something’s burnt, it’s the soup.
(Enter Vivi with cutlery)
Vivi: No, no, everything’s fine.
(Spreads the cutlery on the table)
Technician: Okay, I’m off.
All this has given me an appetite. I’ll go get a shawarma.
Vivi: (Turning towards him) Thank you very much.
Technician: See you.
Both: See you.
Technician: Any problems, you’ve got my number.
Vivi: Yes, yes.
(Exit the Technician. Osher sits down at the table)
Osher: Is everything ready?
Vivi: Everything’s ready.
Osher: (Sniffs. To himself) Something’s burning.
(The doorbell rings. Vivi, off)
Vivi: Come in!
(Vivi comes out. Sound of the door opening and slamming shut. Enter the Father carrying a bunch of flowers)
Father: Good evening.
Osher: Vivi, my dad’s brought flowers.
Vivi: Hello, good evening.
Father: Good evening…
(She kisses the Father and takes the flowers from him)
Vivi: What beautiful flowers. I’ll go put them into water.
Father: (Sniffs) Is something burning?
Osher: I don’t think so.
(The doorbell rings)
Vivi: (Off) Come in!
(She comes out. Sound of the door opening and slamming shut)
Osher: It’s your folks!
(Enter Shmuel and Elisheva. Shmuel is carrying a bottle of wine)
Shmuel: (To the Father) Good evening.
(The following is spoken in quick succession. Elisheva kisses the Father on both cheeks)
Osher: This is my father. Vivi’s mother, Elisheva…
(They shake hands)
Elisheva: Pleased to meet you.
Father: Pleased to meet you.
Osher: Vivi’s father, Shmuel…
Shmuel: Pleased to meet you.
Father: Pleased to meet you.
(They laugh. Elisheva kisses Osher on both cheeks and hugs him)
Shmuel: (Sniffs) Is something burning?
Father: I can’t smell anything.
Vivi: Daddy… (Kisses and hugs Shmuel) Meet Osher’s father.
All: We’ve met, we’ve met…
(Vivi takes the wine from Shmuel. She kisses and hugs Elisheva)
Vivi: Mommy… (Pulls Elisheva into the kitchen) I think the soup’s burnt.
Shmuel: (To Osher) How about a little game of cards after we’ve eaten?
Osher: Of course, what a question.
(Vivi and Elisheva enter from the kitchen. Elisheva is carrying a tureen of soup)
Elisheva: It’s turned out beautifully. (To the men) Sit down, sit down, the soup will get cold.
(They all sit, Elisheva and Vivi serve the soup)
Osher: Before we start, Vivi and I have got something to tell you.
Osher: (To Vivi) Do you want to tell them?
Vivi: No, you tell.
Osher: Vivi and me are going to live together.
All: Oh, very nice.
Osher: And we’re thinking about… getting married.
All: Mazal Tov! Mazal Tov!
(Shmuel shakes the Father’s hand)
Shmuel: And the best of luck!
Father: Hear, hear.
Shmuel: I knew why I brought the wine.
Osher: Vivi, get the wine.
Elisheva: Vivi’leh, there’s no salt on the table.
Vivi: (Off) I’ll bring it.
Osher: Vivi, and a corkscrew.
Vivi: (Off) Okay.
Father: (After her) I haven’t got a spoon.
Vivi: (Off) I’ll bring you one.
Elisheva: (She kisses Osher) Mazal Tov, Osher.
Osher: Thank you very much.
(Vivi comes back from the kitchen wearing only one shoe)
Vivi: Here’s the wine.
Osher: I’ll pour.
Elisheva: Vivi, why only one shoe?
(They all look at her feet)
Father: (Laughing) The shoe’s walked off.
Shmuel: (Laughing) She’s lost a shoe.
Vivi: I was rushing in the kitchen… it must have fallen off.
Elisheva: The soup’s getting cold.
(Vivi turns towards the kitchen. Everyone except her is sitting at the table. Vivi looks towards the door. The doorbell rings. She smiles)
Vivi: Come in!
(They all turn towards Vivi and then towards the door. Sound of the door opening. Bright light on Vivi’s face. Darkness)