West Coast Jewish Theatre, at the Pico Playhouse, presents “O My God,” a wonderful production that won “best play of Israel” in 2012. Similar to Jonathan Larson, who never saw Rent to its full fruition, so too, playwright Anat Gov did not live long enough from her serious bout with cancer, to reap the benefits and accolades she so deserved. This play has much to say about taking a leap of faith, removing all doubts, and fully embracing life as it evolves. From the awesome pen of Anat Gov, this play allows her to pour her heart and soul onto the stage, in the guise of the three lead actors: Lior (Joseph Rishik); Ella (Maria Spassoff); and G (Mike Burstyn). Anat Gov was quite prolific in writing plays for the Israeli stage, including “Best Friends,” “Lysistrata,” Househusband,” and “Happy End,” for the Cameri Theatre in Tel Aviv. Mike Burstyn, an acclaimed song and dance man, American/Israeli performer both on and off Broadway, is phenomenal in his portrayal of G. This very poignant, powerful production deals with hope in the face of loss; and how a young man (Rishik) deals with growing pains as an autistic young adult. The cast, all angels themselves, have natural stage presence, instant chemistry, and innate talent. With various quotes from the text of the Torah, along with words of wisdom from the ultimate sufferer, Job, this play will be sure to resonate with each audience member, constantly struggling within and with God. just as Jacob wrestled with the angel, hence receiving the name Israel. Director Howard Teichman has devoted his life to bringing plays of substance and Jewish content to the West Coast Jewish Theatre venues.
When the lights come up in scene 1, we are treated to a solo cello peformance by Joseph Rishik, followed by a loving, yet co-dependent dialogue between mom Ella (Spassoff) and son Lior (Rishik), about the challenges of love, day to day life, and growing up- becoming an independent man. Ella is an extemely over protective, cautious Jewish/Israeli mother, whom we discover crosses boundaries and recieves a not so random housecall for a therapy session with the Almighty himself (Burstyn). Just like the highly successful series, “In Treatment,” to come out of Israel production, and focus on the theme of psycho-therapy/analysis, so too this play is quite provocative on the nature of belief, all the while delivering pithy one liners, as well as tasteful humor. Although near show’s end, “God” walks out the door, these kindred spirits seem forever touched (by an angel, as it were), with a spark of divine in the air. This play addressess the very real need for God, or at least a divine presence in one’s live, in order to provide comfort, sanity, amidst all the uncertainties (especially in Israel), where at even a moment’s notice, a bomb can erupt, just like the explosion of emotion bursting onstage. This play was reminiscent of the brilliant novel, by Mitch Album, “Have a little Faith.” “O My God” proves that even for ‘ye of little faith,’ it takes a little magic, and a lot of miracles, to receive and recognize the blessings all around us.
10508 W. Pico (323) 860-6620