The Israeli Artists Project, dedicated to bringing the art and artists of Israel to American audiences, has mounted a production of Anat Gov’s Best Friends, a zippy portrait of three best friends through the years. The play, presented alternately in Hebrew and English, fits snugly on the stage of the Rattlestick Theater in the West Village.
The serious comedy follows three women from their early twenties to their forties: Tirza, Lelly and Sophie and their youthful iterations. Tirza (Adi Kozlovsky & Addi Gefen) is the timid one in thrall to the more vital Sophie (Karin Hershkovitz Kochavi & Yael Shavitt). The referee, the even-tempered one, is Lelly (Maia Karo & Maya Shoham).
The younger Tirza, Lelly and Sophie are first discovered in a bathroom (meager, but sufficient sets by Liron Lear Barel) dishing to each other. It’s a scene that delineates their personalities and, to a lesser extent, their future paths. From then on the play mostly alternates between the two generations. Eerily, the younger selves occasionally appear with their older selves as if they were memories come alive.
We see the twenty-somethings at a beach where Lelly and, particularly, Sophie, keep hassling Tirza to be more sexually aggressive; we root for Tirza as she succeeds as an author and TV personality; and we follow them on two escapades in Paris, the second visit causing a deep schism between Tirza and Sophie.
Lelly wisely devises a plan to reunite the trio by arranging an encounter for Sophie and Tirza, not telling them that the other is invited. Lelly entices them with the promise of a life-altering revelation all the while leading the very reluctant Sophie and Tirza on an examination of their lives, holding off on her important announcement—is she sick, dying, engage?—while they reconcile. They bicker and hold grudges but clearly still love and need each other.
One of the more warmly human themes of Best Friends is the frankness of the women’s discussions of the nitty-gritty of sexual techniques. Hilariously, there were few differences between the youthful and mature versions of the three: the sexually unadventurous remained that way and vice versa.
Hamutal Posklinsky-Shehory has directed the fine cast with an eye, bringing out the delicate balance between the humor and the heartbreak. The six actresses create totally believable portraits of modern women.
Arbel Rabi designed the varied and character-perfect costumes including one ridiculous hat worn by Maia Karo in her Paris scene!
Best Friends (return engagement: October 4 – 28, 2023, performances alternate between English and Hebrew)
Israeli Artists Project
Theater at 14th Street, 344 E. 14th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.go-out.co/venue/stavfestival
Running time: one hour and 45 minutes without an intermission