Dybbuk (3 stars)

This article is from 2008.


The idea to combine two different treatments of the Jewish myth of the dybbuk is inspired. In sandwiching together the play by Szymon Anski, a traditional drama about a woman possessed by the spirit of her dead lover, and a modern story by Hanna Krall about an American man haunted by a half-brother who was lost in the Warsaw ghetto, director Krzysztof Warlikoswki opens up the possibility of play that resonates across the 20th century and beyond.

Sadly, Dybbuk doesn't have that effect. Performed by Poland's TR Warszawa in a single two hour-plus sitting, the play is a curious amalgam of its source material that has only a couple of flashes of real drama. More typically, whether it's in the opening sequence of Jewish esoteric thought or in the many muted enigmatic conversations, the show is closer to a humourless intellectual debate than a piece of theatre.

Magdalena Cielecka and Andrzej Chyra give strong performances as the central couple in both stories and Warlikoswki creates singular stage pictures on his big, open stage. But the material is edited in a way that mutes the impact of what could have been powerful scenes of possession and exorcism, making it hard to fathom what purpose the production aims to fulfil.

King's Theatre, 473 2000, 9-11 Aug, 7.30pm, £10–£25.

The Dybbuk

  • 3 stars

Polish-made adaptation of the Jewish classic that employs symbols of Kabbalah and other Jewish traditions to explore that the latent pressures that haunt contemporary culture. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival'

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