Writer: Maya Goldstein
Director: Shir Freibach
Za’atar Rain is a glorious oddity of a show. It is a comedic, surreal mystery that leads to a perilous journey involving a talking pigeon, a talking Scottish sheep, Elon Musk, and, of course, the Middle Eastern spice blend Za’atar.
In Tel Aviv, Maya Goldstein is explaining to us how a town in northern Italy has banned the keeping of goldfish in bowls, when her doorbell rings. It’s a pizza delivery… well actually a pitta delivery, from Beirut. Maya didn’t order the pitta but on hearing that it is spiced with Za’atar, she accepts it.
Soon after, she starts receiving anonymous calls which, a few days later, are revealed to be from a lady Maya doesn’t know, but who knows a lot about her. Her first words to Maya are, ‘I need to tell you something’ and then she hangs up. And so, the mystery starts.
As it unravels, Maya is encouraged to visit Beirut, no easy task for a lady in Tel Aviv, and we are taken on a perilous and dangerous journey as Maya attempts to defy the odds and travel into ‘the land of the Cedars’. Whilst wonderfully surreal and comical, Za’atar Rain provides a pointed and critical narrative on the folly of borders and the pain and suffering the political and social tensions they cause.
Delivered as a monologue, Maya uses her single person narrative in three ways to deliver her story. She starts by talking to the audience, almost giving a stand-up routine, she then switches to a hybrid of mime and acting to enact scenes of her story, and then brings in a narrative style where she expresses her thoughts out loud and to no one in particular. This use of these three techniques lifts the performance from a standard monologue and the use of projected animation and pre-recorded voices, to represent the other characters, gives the performance an added dimension that helps draw in the audience and keep them engaged.
Za’atar Rain is a wonderful show, whimsical and funny, but with a very poignant message. And with border disputes in the news so much recently, the underlying message about the stupidity of borders could not come at a more pertinent time.
Runs until 27 May 2022 and then tours