Presented by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in conjunction with Rorschach Theatre and High Brow Entertainment at 59E59 Theaters, Theater B, 59 E. 59 St., NYC, Nov. 23-Jan. 2.
First performed in Israel in 1994, actor-playwright-director Ami Dayan's free adaptation of Italian Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo's play "A Tale of a Tiger" has finally reached New York via a production that began at Colorado's Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.
Suitable for all ages over five, this one-man show, co-adapted and designed by Miki Ben Cnaan, is based on a Chinese theatrical folk tale with its roots in an Indian myth. As performed in Israel with Dayan's own ending, the play is a parable for healing and reconciliation. On Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday evenings, Dayan performs both endings, including Fo's diametrically opposed original one, which is a political outcry for revolt against leaders who misrepresent their people morally.
Dressed as a Chinese peasant traveler, Dayan tells of being a soldier in the Chinese army left for dead on the battlefield. Crawling into a cave to get out of the elements, he is nursed back to health by a tigress and her cub. Returning to the civilized world, the soldier is at first ostracized and then turned into a hero. Eventually, he must choose the personal and moral standard by which he is to live.
Dayan is a personable storyteller and is even able to obtain audience participation from all ages. However, as Jerry Browning's lighting design is only serviceable, Cnaan's scenery only sketchy, and Ran Bagno's original music only intermittent, the play is entirely too long at 75 minutes (95 minutes at double-ending performances). Dayan remains the storyteller and never really becomes the tigress, which might have added magic to the performance. However, the story is ultimately a moving parable of the power of brotherhood and understanding.