The Ballad of the Burning Star is a revolutionary piece of theatre throwing light upon a hugely complex situation
I have had to cogitate on the impression this stunning theatrical production Ad Infinitum gave us at the Edinburgh Fringe; so overwhelming was it that I couldn’t write anything for days. What I can say is that it is the most stunning piece of theatre I have seen in many years and I would recommend anyone who is in Edinburgh that if they are to see just one piece of theatre, it should be this.
Any theatrical piece that so masterfully tackles the Israeli question should be automatically awarded 5 stars, and this is executed in serious 1930’s Berlin cabaret style. Theatrical devices and the playing with time make this piece innovative, edgy and fast-paced, throwing the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions and constantly shifting attitudes.
We are thrown a theatrical bomb when we are threatened by a real bomb — the audience is told there could be a terrorist in the theatre, and they end up shuffling uncomfortably in their seats. It’s only the beginning, but already the audience is given a taste of what it’s like to live in Israel in these days. And so with this faux warm-up, we’re introduced to the main protagonist, an emotional and tyrannical transvestite called Star, who is masterfully played (and written) by Nir Paldi.
We are told the highly charged story of an Israeli army infiltrating an Arab house where a young Palestinian boy is killed. From this incident, flashes of historical references of the Jews over hundreds of years are interpreted by a powerful troop of athletic storm-trooper dancers known, who despite their tremendous acting and energy are constantly berated by the stroppy diva, Star. We learn the bitter truth of life in Israel for both Arabs and Jews as we understand the rising internal conflict within Star and why he is so utterly torn apart.
Thus we come in and out of two layers of theatre; one of the Berlin cabaret troop, the other of the story of the Israel- Palestine situation, masterfully related in exhaustingly physical hard-hitting vignettes. Our senses are bombarded with turbulent flashbacks through singing, dance, movement, live music, speech and recital.
The Ballad of the Burning Star is a revolutionary piece of theatre throwing light upon a hugely complex situation. There’s a superb twist at the end, which leaves us with more questions and heartache over a situation it seems will never be settled. Only one thing’s for certain, there’s nothing more complex than man himself.
Edinburgh Festival Pleasance Queen Dome until 26 August