Jessica, an L.A. actress, has traveled to Israel for research purposes. She’s set to star in a “Middle East–conflict blockbuster” concerning Yusef, a dreamy suicide bomber, and the Israeli minx who disarms him. As she idles in a Tel Aviv café, Jessica chats on her cell to a friend back home. “I’m not saying Israel doesn’t have the right to exist,” she muses. “But why put yourself in a tiny space in the Mediterranean, surrounded by people who hate you?” If Jessica’s friend has a cogent response, we never learn it, as Jessica and the café’s other customers— a Palestinian professor, an Israeli ex-general, a Russian prostitute, and a German furniture designer, all played by writer-performer Iris Bahr—are about to become the victims of a terrorist attack.
Dai, Bahr’s one-woman show, doesn’t shy away from asking difficult questions about the Israeli situation, nor from leaving them unanswered. As Bahr spent her teenage years in Israel and served in its military, her topic clearly has a personal resonance. But the show better succeeds at displaying Bahr’s impressive gifts for accent and character than at contributing meaningfully to the discourse surrounding the Middle East. Didacticism is rarely to be preferred over characterization, but the self-interest of most of the characters she inhabits, their inability to look outside themselves, ensures that the performance doesn’t accrete. Rather than relying exclusively on themonologue form, Bahr might have put her characters in conversation with one another. The bombing provides disunity enough.