Golda's Balcony

William Gibson
Helen Hayes Theater, New York
(2004)

Golda Meir (far more dignified than Goldie Meyerson) was Prime Minister of Israel at the time of the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

From the perspective of her war bunker, this incredibly tough lady, constantly smoking and already dying, looks back at her own history and that of her country.

Tovah Feldshuh gives a bravura Broadway performance that encapsulates so much of the personality of an extraordinary woman who was generations ahead of her time. Miss Feldshuh effortlessly imitates not only Mrs Meir but also so many of her contemporaries as the story unfolds.

From the twenties when she deserted her patriarchal family in Milwaukee to marry the cultured Morris, it is apparent that this is a tough cookie.

They soon sail for Palestine and its tragedies, where her socialist political roots develop to her husband's chagrin. Deserting him and the family to pursue her ambitions is not an issue and by the forties she is working closely with Ben-Gurion. One of the best tales is of her ability as a fund-raiser in times of war.

Tovah Feldshuh's great talent ensures that, in spite of the most harrowing experiences, Golda Meir's feisty spirit and irrepressible humour shine through. The build-up to a really tense dénouement is well-paced by director Scott Schwartz, although the symbolically rocky set and often indistinguishable projections do not greatly assist.

William Gibson has written a good play but in the hands of Tovah Feldshuh it has become a multi-award winning Broadway hit.

Philip also reviewed this production when it tranfserred to the Shaw Theatre, Euston, in 2008

Reviewer: Philip Fisher