Knock Knock

This one hour solo performance was a truly mesmerising and moving experience. From the opening moments when Nev Petel mimes a simple action accompanied by the sound of his voice humming, we are transfixed by his world and his story. This young Israeli actor has written a well–crafted account of a mother’s love and care for her son from babyhood to manhood.

In a small space this actor has created a universe.

Petel skilfully performs the role of Elana, a single mother who works as a professional army counsellor for some of the bereaved families of Israel. There is an extraordinary depth of characterisation made even more remarkable by this male actor playing the female role with such sensitivity, without resorting to the stereotypical Jewish mother.

Through the conversations with her neighbours a picture builds of Elana’s relationship with her son Elad and their lives in modern day Israel. As Elana converses with Elad, her neighbours and friends the characters become so real they appear to occupy the acting space like spirits. Petel achieves this through his powerful eye focus combined with beautifully judged gestures and facial expressions. His lilting voice is hypnotic.

The precision of the mime sequences interspersed throughout give us an outside view making us think and strive to understand their meanings. Some actions are easily recognised while other mimes are more obscure and watching this actor’s finely tuned physical language adds more layers and opens our minds to the world outside. The mime sequences also carry us through the different phases of Elad’s life hinting at the future whetting the appetite to know and understand more.

The mother-son world is absorbing and truly enchanting. The humour derives from the familiarity of the situations such as a day out at the beach and Elad’s first day at school. Underpinning all the experiences is the recognition that the parent–child relationship is profound. There are moments fraught with fear such as when Elad declares a wish to join a combat unit for his National Service. His mother’s world is shattered. Too often she has been the one to knock at the door.

The set by Rhiannon White is simple unobtrusive, all white, and perfectly appropriate in supporting a complex narrative. The props are crucial to the piece, they have multiple uses and in the hands of this highly skilled actor they take on a life of their own. He transforms them in such imaginative, surprising and delightful ways.

Using a true event as inspiration Niv Petel has written a brilliant and succinct script and Maia Levy as artistic advisor and co. director has ensured the script and the performance of it is of the highest quality.

In a small space this actor has created a universe.

Reviews by Jessica Holt

Omnibus Theatre

Blood Wedding

★★
The Warren: The Hat

EAST by Steven Berkoff

★★★★
Ambassadors Theatre

Beginning

★★★★★
Theatre N16

Knock Knock

★★★★★
Southwark Playhouse

Mother Courage And Her Children

★★★

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

How would you raise your child, if you knew that one day their turn will come to hold a rifle?

As a liaison officer for the army, Ilana, a single mother, supports families who’ve lost their sons and daughters to the wars. But when the time comes for her own only son to wear the army uniform, she faces a life-changing dilemma. In a society where life and death are inextricably intertwined in everyday life, a knock on the door can only mean one thing… Inspired by real-life situations, and with a lot of humor, Niv Petel’s immersive physical mono-drama cuts through the thick curtain of Middle East politics to tell a story about parenthood, friendship, love and sacrifice.

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