Directed by Scott Alan Evans
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13
It is a hard kind of love that haunts Hannah (Victoria Mack) and Zvi (Ian Kahn) as they attempt to navigate through their fractured relationship twenty years after their divorce. It is an issue of faith that apparently contributed to the couple’s parting of ways and it has been their hope that someday they might reunite. This journey of faith, hope, and love is the engaging subject of Motti Lerner’s “Hard Love” currently running at the Beckett Theatre on Theatre Row.
Hannah lives in a secluded part of Israel inhabited by Jews with a deep and conservative faith. She and Zvi met and married young and Zvi’s commitment to Hannah’s type of faith dwindles. Zvi is an agnostic, perhaps an atheist and their disparate world views drives them apart and to their separation and divorce. Hannah calls Zvi back to deal with the relationship that has developed between their children and the same issue that eventually separated her and Zvi twenty years ago: faith. Hannah tells Zvi his son wants to marry her daughter and Zvi is concerned his son will lose his interest in music and submit to the same faith he fled two decades ago.
Hannah’s motivation for wanting to see her former husband is complex and it is the unfolding of her motivation that is at the heart of this wonderfully complicated play. Are Hannah’s motives pure? Has she been in love with Zvi all the time they were separated and does the near-death of her aging husband provide Hannah the opportunity to reunite with Zvi? At first Zvi seems willing to rekindle the spark of their love until Hannah’s apparent pregnancy and willingness to live with Zvi in Tal-Aviv raises suspicion and doubt about Hannah’s motives.
Under Scott Alan Evans’ steady hand and compelling direction, Ms. Mack and Mr. Kahn bring the hopes and dreams of their characters to an authentic and believable dramatic arc that keeps the audience wondering if this estranged couple can overcome old issues of faith and develop a new relationship based on transparency and unconditional love. It is unconditional love – not romantic love – that eventually leads Zvi to examine Hannah’s willingness to move in with him. And it is Zvi’s desire to delay the move to accommodate his new girlfriend that increases Hannah’s desire to move even more quickly into a re-marriage.
“Hard Love” is a remarkable tale of the complications faith brings to the development of a loving relationship and how hope can transcend realism and create a fantasy of the most dangerous kind. Everything about the production contributes to the success of the telling of Hannah and Zvi’s interesting story. John McDermott’s set design and Aaron Copp’s lighting design are fitting complements to Mr. Lerner’s script as is Kim Krumm Sorenson’s costume design. “Hard Love” is definitely worth a look.