Before me stood a human being. I remember thinking this several times throughout the show as a positive reminder. So rarely are we captured by the basic humanity of our performers. Noa Baum, through the carefully crafted art of storytelling, managed to take me in completely.
There was no flashy set, no intricate displays of lights, and no sound cues other than the Israeli music that greeted the audience as we entered. Yet, the show was one of the most delightful experiences I’ve had in a theatre to date.
Baum herself was just a little bit nervous, and just a little bit parched. Yet despite the little hiccups, she remained genial, approachable, and friendly from start to finish. I cannot find other words to describe it other than ‘beautifully human’.
Baum points out that Israel is defined by war and politics. Most people have strong opinions about the country, but have never experienced its life and culture firsthand. Noa’s storytelling brings that little piece of the gentle, family-oriented, loving life to the Fringe festival.
With surprising verbal grace, Baum carries the weight of a culture through a series of short stories. She exhibits a wonderful command of English, Hebrew and German, fluidly shifting between them without pause or hesitation. All the while, she shows a deep understanding of the inherent poetry and musicality of each language.
Impossible to Translate but I’ll Try – True-Life Israeli Stories
by Noa Baum
at Goethe Institut
812 7th Street NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
The stories themselves tend to swing towards the humorous, but each one carries just the right amount of heartwarming moments to really allow the reality of Baum’s world to land.
Her stories come from a life across the ocean, and several decades in the past, but there are still lessons and meanings still relevant today. A part of me wonders how a younger audience would receive the piece. As a 20-something of another culture entirely, I was curious as to how I would receive it. However, approaching these stories with an open heart, Baum’s words and stories found a place to settle.
While you’re cavorting about Fringe, soaking in all of the zany, crazy, enjoyable experiences, do not overlook this production. The simple, exquisitely crafted storytelling will be a welcome respite.