Tovah nails Golda
on or off her balcony
The Segal Centre presents the longest running one-woman show in Broadway history
By Byron Toben
Tovah Feldshuh, who has won more acting awards than I could readily recall (not to mention her writing, directing and teaching activities) really nails the personality of Golda Meir, the 4th Prime Minister of Israel, in the current show Golda’s Balcony, now at the Segal Centre.
In fact, her performance is the longest running one-woman show in Broadway history.
Golda Meir was among the first women heads of state to become same for a sustained period without “inheriting” the position from a father or husband.
Her many other accomplishments can be read at length in the printed program. Congrats to Lisa Rubin and the team at the Segal for bringing this inspiring piece to Montreal.
The text of the play was written by the late William Gibson, best known for his Miracle Worker, the story of Helen Keller and her dedicated teacher Anne Sullivan.
Golda Meir was among the first women heads of state to become same for a sustained period without “inheriting” the position from a father or husband. See the end of this review for my summary list of such other accomplished women.
The Segal program also lists photos and capsule bios of eight other political figures discussed in the show – King Abdullah of Transjordan; David Ben Gurion, the first Israel prime minister (who called her the only man in his cabinet); Moshe Dayan, the eye patched Israeli General; Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s Secretary of State; Pope Pius VI and others.
Also highlighted were her relationships to her bookish, shy husband Morris Meyerson and her children, Menachem and Sarah. She felt guilty that her duties pre-empted her responsibilities at home.
‘Congrats to Lisa Rubin and the team at the Segal for bringing this inspiring piece to Montreal.’
Also conflicting Golda’s principles – she was an early “peacenik” and world betterer – was the need for military strength as Israel’s various existence was threatened constantly from its UN sanctioned birth in 1948 (70 years ago) until now. During that period, tiny Israel fought 13 wars or near wars as surrounding states sought to extinguish it. Two of the most publicized, the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War occurred while Golda was in office.
This play reveals her threat to use a nuclear bomb (Did Israel really have one?) if needed unless securing arms replacements from the West worked. Was it a bluff? Kissinger adds his opinion.
Fine cosmetics with wiry hair, enlarged nose, arthritic legs and orthopedic shoes as well as background screen visuals add to the total feel.
Oh, yes, as promised, here is my short list of female heads of state making it on their own merits aside or despite that of their husbands or fathers.
Byron’s list of female heads of state on their own merits for two years or more
1960-1965, 1970-1977, 1994-2000
Siri Bandarabaike, Prime Minister of Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
Indira Ghandi, Prime Minister of India
Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel
Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of United Kingdom
Vigdis Finnbogadottir, President of Iceland
1981, 1986-89, 1990-96
Gro Harlem Bruntland, Prime Minister of Norway
Corazon Aquino, President of Philippines
Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Mary Robinson, President of Ireland
Mary McAleese, President of Ireland
2005 to date 2018
Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany
2006 to date 2018
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia
Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil
Park Geun-Hye, President of South Korea
2016 to date 2018
Theresa May, Prime minister of United Kingdom
Golda’s Balcony continues at the Segal Centre until June 10.
514 739-7944 or segalcentre.org
Images: Aaron Epstein
Read also: Remounting a timeless Tremblay masterpiece
Byron Toben is the immediate past-president of the Montreal Press Club.