REVIEW: Bibi

Local playwright, Kalman Kivkovich, has written a one man play about the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.  Bibi, as he is known across the world, is apparently a polarizing figure in the Middle East.  I say apparently because my only knowledge of him is hearing the name on the news as a kid (when I still watched the news).  However, thanks to Bibi, I can say my horizons have been expanded.

Robert Pavlovich stars in Bibi
Robert Pavlovich stars in Bibi

This isn’t a perfect script; at times it feels more like political lecture than play . . . but I certainly heard the playwright’s voice through the dialogue.  Actor Robert Pavlovich (known quite affectionately by some in my social circle as “Bob Pav”) had the unenviable job of taking a one man show with very little plot and drawing the audience in. I would say he succeeded, as I felt engaged throughout the nearly 100 minute run time.  Kivkovich has mined through so many speeches to make his Bibi authentic and I believe he succeeded.

The main purpose of the show, as I’m sure Kivkovich would tell you, is to warn against the dangers of Iran building nuclear weapons.  Bibi’s passion around this issue is apparent, though I would have liked to see more anger from him.  He seems to saintly in this show, and I’m pretty sure behind closed doors he’s far from it.  However, as a piece of political influence, this show works just fine.

Mark Halpin’s set design brought energy and life to the stage.  Diogenes, a new theatre company, certainly spared no expense in producing this show.  The platform, flooring, chairs, and other pieces did set the tone necessary for each section of the play and I commend him for his efforts.  David Levy, one of the most prolific sound designers in town, has another great outing here as his effects were timed perfectly and helped keep the show interesting.  Director Drew Fracher did as much as you could with the pacing and the blocking, and even though I’m certainly not the target audience for this piece, I can’t say I was ever bored.  And I really kind of expected to be.

I was wrong and I can admit it.  Kudos to this production . . . as the woman introducing the play said, this is “Kalman’s dream come true.”  Congratulations to him and let this be an inspiration to the amazing new playwrights in Cincinnati to keep pursuing their dreams.

BIBI will be produced again this July 22-24th at the Aronoff Center for a special three night run.  We’ll have more details on the blog as we get closer.  We’re also looking for more exciting things from Diogenes Theatre Company as they make their presence felt in Greater Cincinnati.  More information is available here.

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