MK: Knesset love affair unfit for stage
Political dramaPolitical drama

MK: Knesset love affair unfit for stage

Uri Ariel says 'Kizuz' production 'damages the trust' citizens have in their parliamentarians

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

The Cameri Theatre (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)
The Cameri Theatre (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/Flash90)

A new play about sex, betrayal and the land of Israel has become the background for off-stage drama, with a Knesset member lobbying to have the production shut down.

The Cameri Theatre’s new play “Kizuz” — meaning offset, or cutting back — is scheduled to premiere on Friday and features two MKs, one from the left and one from the right, having an illicit affair with each other.

MK Uri Ariel (National Union) wrote a letter to the theater’s management in which he called for the play to be canceled because “it could damage the trust of the people in their elected representatives,” Maariv reported on Tuesday.

In the play, written by Ilan Hatsor and directed by Alon Ofir, Benny Shvut is a married settler and father of eight, who pushes a hard-right line in the Knesset. Tamara Yarden is a single woman from Tel Aviv with positions on the other side of the Israeli political spectrum.

As the play progresses, Shvut and Yarden develop a relationship that moves from professional to intimate, and from the corridors of the Knesset to a bed in a secret apartment in the capital. One scene shows them skipping an important vote on the future of the Jewish settlements and making love instead.

“After reading extracts from the script, which can only be described as imaginary and delusional, a troubling picture arises,” Ariel wrote in his letter to Noam Semel, the Cameri’s manager.

The story line could “severely harm Israeli democracy” and damage the standing of the Knesset and the country’s legislators, he said. “There are clear borders even to freedom of expression and art.”

Semel told Maariv the theater respects all MKs, including Ariel, and invites them to join a discussion group hosted by the Israeli Democracy Institute on Saturday night.

Arye Carmon, the institute’s director, defended the play. It’s a shame “MK Ariel lacks the basic tools to understand the foundations of the connection between democracy and culture,” he told the Hebrew daily.

Ariel rebutted the claims and said the institute “was looking for a chance for public exposure.”

The Cameri is no stranger to controversy. Its 1970 production of Hanoch Levin’s “Queen of the Bathtub,” which was critical of the Six Day War, caused an uproar, with the government threatening to cut the theater’s state funding.

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