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Theater Review: “Golda’s Balcony”

Rosina Reynolds as Golda Meir
Photo credit:
Daren Scott

Golda Meir, the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics (before that sobriquet was applied to Margaret Thatcher), was a teacher, kibbutznik, wife and mother before she became the fourth prime minister of Israel.

In William Gibson’s solo show “Golda’s Balcony,” Meir reminisces on her life in and out of politics, but most of the show is concerned with her handling of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Todd Salovey directs and Rosina Reynolds does the honors through June 26 at New Village Arts Theatre, with a thoughtful, sometimes funny and often moving portrayal.

This dedicated Zionist (born in Kiev but raised in Milwaukee) wanted to move to Palestine so as “not to be just a parlor Zionist.” When she met socialist sign painter Morris Meyerson, one condition of their marriage was that they move to a kibbutz.

This they did in 1921, where she immersed herself in politics. Unfortunately, Morris got malaria in the kibbutz.

They moved to Jerusalem in 1928, where their children were born and Golda got even more deeply into politics.

They grew apart but never divorced; Morris died in 1951. Still, Golda reports guilt that although “I had a part in a great success here – where nothing was, Israel is,” Morris was a part of the price.

Gibson notes that there were two balconies in Meir’s life. One was in her apartment in Tel Aviv, from which she could see the Mediterranean and the ships arriving with refugee Jewish settlers to the new state of Israel.

The other was an observation post into the workings of a secret underground nuclear weapons facility at Dimona, a view “into hell,” as she describes it. Begun in the late 1950s, Israel told the Americans (who flew U-2s over it) that it was a desalination plant.

On Yom Kippur in 1973, Syria and Egypt, wanting to regain territory lost in the 1967 Six-Day War, attacked Israel. Meir’s cabinet (including several generals) could not agree on what to do. “How does a housewife decide between generals?” she asks.

Gibson has written a fascinating piece that gives us a glimpse into the way Meir’s political mind worked, and a feeling for the difficulty of being in office when the decision to go to war is made.

Near the end, she poses this question to ponder: What happens when idealism becomes power?

“Golda’s Balcony” is a powerful piece of personal and political theater.

The details

“Golda’s Balcony” plays through June 26, 2016 at New Village Arts, 2787 State Street in Carlsbad.

Thursday and Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 3 and 8 pm.; Sunday at 2 pm

Tickets: (760) 433-3245 or www.newvillagearts.org