In ‘DAI (enough),’ Schwartz is spectacular as 10 different characters

by Renee Valois / Special to the Pioneer Press
Pioneer Press
Friday, August 19, 2016

Miriam Schwartz is amazing in Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company’s powerful production of “DAI (enough).”

She does a spectacular job of channeling 10 very different people in an Israeli café, putting on disparate mannerisms, accents and movements each time she dons new shoes and clothing that signal a change of character. She is natural and convincing in each role — making it easy to overlook how impressive it was for her to memorize all of the lines in the 90-minute production.

Even those tired of hearing about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may find much to love in this solo show written by Iris Bahr. The conceit is that a British TV reporter, in trouble for her coverage with a bias toward Israel’s enemies, is now trying to provide a “balanced” view by interviewing ordinary Israelis in a coffee shop in Tel Aviv.

The show gets inside the skin of everyone from a lovelorn gay German furniture designer and a young Israeli raver promoting a “Party for Peace” to a Russian prostitute and a Latina American actress who claimed she was Israeli to get a movie role.

With all of that diversity comes a myriad number of interesting and unexpected viewpoints. A few are strident and narrow-minded, others apathetic and some downright comic — like the self-absorbed ex-patriot Israeli who lives in New York, and is visiting her sick mother on her terms.

As we get to know each character and start to understand their viewpoint (sometimes a bit warped), we feel compassion for them — just in time for a suicide bomber’s arrival.

Logically, the reporter couldn’t be separately interviewing every one of these people simultaneously just before the bomb goes off, but we’re willing to suspend our disbelief because the “interview” framework effectively gets us from one intriguing monologue to the next.

The sound design by Anita Kelling and lighting design by Paul Epton are impactful and very effective in conveying the shock of a bomb blast.

There’s an element of poignancy in many of the stories, and even when we don’t agree with all of the opinions expressed by the characters, we are able to see them as fellow human beings with strong feelings, beliefs, dreams and fears. Ultimately, the show suggests that if two enemies would only recognize their shared humanity — and that they’re not so different at heart — there could be hope. There could be peace.

It’s a worthy theme. And this production does it proud.