Sometimes it's tough to sit through a one-man show, as so many factors are in play. Not only the actor and the text, but the subject matter as well.
Nonetheless it all comes together beautifully in The Book of Oded, Chapter 2, Oded Yosef Kassirer's one hour plus a few minutes account of his life as a gay man in Los Angeles transplanted from his native Israel.
Prancing about a relatively bare bones set, cleverly containing some tall four-sided rectangular boxes mounted with different photos to help denote where he might be at any given moment in time, and sometimes striding up and down the theatre aisles, Mr. Kassirer describes with humor and occasional pathos the difficulties entailed finding love and a career in Israel and America and the chore involved becoming a legal resident.
It's not easy -- neither the story telling or the process -- but Mr. Kassirer keeps the audience engaged, sometimes with a scripted aside and sometimes improvising a retort to the reaction of one of the spectators, but it most importantly works.
Essentially anecdotal but intriguing, we learn about Mr. Kassirer's difficulties coming out in a sometimes still conservative Israel, though he informs us that the military was way ahead of America integrating gay service people into the ranks.
Still, when he became smitten with a young lieutenant named Gil it took quite awhile for the man to come clean to his family about his relationship with Oded, then broke his heart when he decided to try going straight, after which he headed to Los Angeles before ultimately sending for Oded to join him.
The journey to the States and the return back to Israel for a spell are delightful and poignant and, whether you are gay or straight, (witness the breadth of the audience watching it with me) it's well worth your partaking of the enjoyable enterprise written by Mr. Kassirer, directed by Sammie Wayne, IV and produced by Mr. Kassirer's husband Oscar A. Ibarra.
Playing at the Working Stage Theatre in Hollywood, 1516 N. Gardner Street, just north of Sunset, performances run at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays through February 15. Tickets are $20-25 and can be purchased by calling 323-375-1284 or at www.thebookofoded.com
Michael Russnow's website is www.ramproductionsinternational.com
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