Theater Review: ‘Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of The People’ presented by Theater J at Georgetown University

Blair Bowers, Michael Tolaydo, Nadia Mahdi.  Photo by Stan Barouh.

Blair Bowers, Michael Tolaydo, Nadia Mahdi. Photo by Stan Barouh.

There are many reasons I could give for telling you to go see Boged (Traitor): An Enemy Of The People, which is part of Theater J’s Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival. I could say its acting company does a superb job of performing Boaz Gaon’s modern English adaptation of Ibsen’s original work that Goan and Nir Erez originally had premiered in Israel. I could say that the surroundings of Georgetown University are an added bonus. I could also say that in grand Theater J style, this play has a lot to say about how people can be bought and how, while you think politicians have our best interest in hand, most of the time it’s all about them.  For whichever reason you choose to go and see this play, it is well worth your time.

It’s a theatre experience that will hopefully inspire many conversations…

Set in Israel, the main plot concerns Dr. Tommy Doany (Michael Tolaydo) a scientist who has discovered that a chemical leak from an industrial park is endangering the region’s water supply. He even has written a report to back up his findings. When this is brought to the attention of his brother Simon Doany (Brian Hemmingsen), who happens to be the mayor and is running for re election, he stages an elaborate cover up to discredit his brother and keep the head of the industrial park Moddy Ekstein (Sarah Marshall) happy–anything to win the election.

Brian Hemmingsen and Sarah Marshall.  Photo by Stan Barouh.

Brian Hemmingsen and Sarah Marshall. Photo by Stan Barouh.

We then have Yair Hoffman (Mark Halpern), a TV reporter, trying to get to the bottom of things as this is the third leak from the park in many months. Also we have Yehuda Sharabi (Clark Young), a young reporter, who is also trying to break the same story and is also just trying to break big in his own career. There is your basic set up.  Now it’s up to you to find out what happens from here.

Performance wise the cast gives top flight performances and there aren’t any weak links in the bunch. Michael Tolaydo as Dr. Doany gives a powerful and unflinching performance as the man who is just trying to do what’s right for his community. I have been watching this man for 30 years now and he never disappoints.

Brian Hemmingsen as Simon gives a slimy and great take on his character. It’s hard to play sleazy without it being a cartoon, but Hemmingsen portrays Simon very convincingly.

Sarah Marshall as the head of the industrial park, as usual, gives a fabulous performance. No matter what I see Marshall in, it’s always a pleasure. If you are used to seeing her in only comedic roles, the cold calculating Moddy will convince you that she is a fantastic dramatic actress as well.

I really enjoyed Blair Bowers as Yardin Doany, who is the daughter of the Doctor and is worried about losing her job amidst the controversy.

Mark Halpern and Clark Young as the competing reporters give fine performances as well, while Maboud Ebrahimzadeh as Danny Rotem, an Israeli soldier, Nadia Mahdi as Kate Doany, the Doctor’s wife, and Timothy Hayes Lynch as Alex Morton all do fine work with each of their characters to round out the ensemble.

Michael Tolaydo and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh.  Photo by Stan Barouh.

Michael Tolaydo and Maboud Ebrahimzadeh. Photo by Stan Barouh.

Director Joseph Megel’s direction lets Gaon’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s classic script breathe and build nicely to its climatic scene. You really get the journey of  Tolaydo’s character and what he is trying to accomplish.

Robbie Hayes’s minimalistic set makes good use of the Gonda Theatre. With use of moving platforms and an industrial like hanging structure the set never dwarfs the action. Brian S. Allred’s lighting moods also enhance the action without overpowering the performers.

One other thing I need to mention. Two years ago at this time Theater J presented Return To Haifa which was also adapted by Boaz Gaon. While I was working on that production I met an incredible lady named Rosina Kambos. She had been battling cancer but when she hit the stage you never knew it. Very wisely the Helen Hayes Awards people gave her a nomination for Best Actress in a Resident Production, the first Israeli to receive the honor. Rosina unfortunately passed away in December. I bring this up because Theater J has dedicated this production in loving memory of Rosina. I know she would have loved it.

Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of The People gets a high recommendation from me for its stellar cast and direction with a wonderful script adaptation by Boaz Gaon. Go early and check out the beautiful surroundings of Georgetown University and then be prepared to be riveted. It’s a theatre experience that will hopefully inspire many conversations, and that is what good theatre is supposed to do.

Running Time: One hour and 45 minutes with no intermission.

Boged (Traitor): An Enemy of The People plays through February 3, 2013 at Theater J at The Davis Performing Arts Center’s Gonda Theatre – located at the corner of O Street, NW and 37th Street, NW – on the Georgetown University campus, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 687-2787, or purchase them online.

Travel Tips- If you are taking public transportation there is a free shuttle  to Georgetown University one block from the Dupont Circle Metro. For more info click here.

For info on all events in Theater J’sVoices From a Changing Middle East Festival click here

About Elliot Lanes

Elliot Lanes has been a professional stage manager/sound designer/board op for over 20 years. After relocating to Washington, DC from the New York City area and marrying the girl of his dreams Jennifer Perry, he has been privileged to work on productions at Theatre J, Synetic, Prince George's Community College and Studio Theater to name a few. He has contributed designs for many shows in the last three Capital Fringe Festivals, two of which garnered critical raves. He is also the creator of MD Theatre Guide's highly successful 'A Quick 5' column.