Yael Ronen and Company – The Day Before the Last Day

Yesterday evening I saw The Day Before the Last Day in die Schaubühne as a part of the F.I.N.D. festival.

The Company plays a straight-forward critique and pastiche of religion that covers a broad swath but mainly stays in the realm of non-complicated comedy. The opening in particular is a miserable slapstick routine that seems to hit a chord with the German audience. Fortunately the rest of the play is better.

What ‘The Day Before…’ amounts to is a series of entertaining religious sketches interspersed with some more serious notes. Some of them are really good and manage to hit home, but given the theme the treatment is rather tame. Maybe this is risqué in Israel or Germany (with the obligate Nazi joke), but with this theme and YouTube to draw from (as we can see in the projections), a more visceral exploration of religion and humanity should have been possible.

Biting off a theme of this size does give a lot to chew on, too much probably. Add to that the piece also adding meta commentary to itself and the demands on the writing become ridiculously high. Demands that are not met. The internet is incorporated and provides a rich source of material but it remains at arm’s length. Given the contemporary nature and theme of the piece, a higher degree of network realism should have been possible. Tuning the sketches to current events should not be too difficult and it would have added a much needed poignancy.

Surprisingly entertaining but the content falls a bit short of the ambition. (3/5)

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