Hit-And-Run Play Hits DC

Set in a Tel Aviv suburb, The Accident focuses on the unraveling lives of a group of upper-middle class friends and family, and calls into question the extent to which we let our moral character affect our relatively comfortable existence. "The play is a corrosive agent, meant to scrub away the buildup" and expose the discrepancies in suburban life.

Originally written in Hebrew and performed in Israel, The Accident could just as easily have been written with an American audience in mind. In fact, it may translate a little too easily. The tie-ins with war, and the expressed disagreement yet failure to do anything about it, brings to mind the war in Iraq, and reminds the audience that we are not so different from our Allies in the Middle East.

The key theme, for both the playwright and the director, was "moral dyslexia," or the conflict between political ideas and personal choices. The Accident does a good job of calling to mind the viewer's own difficulties in actually acting on moral values when faced with a decision. When one of the characters, Adam, delivers the line "my small need for comfort overcomes most of my principles," more than one woman, fur coat piled in lap, shifted uncomfortably. This phrase struck a cord. In America, where consumerism is king and the divide between the rich and poor grows greater, morals take a back seat to comfort. It is easier to say what you would do than to act upon these princinples, and it is exactly this discrepancy that The Accident focuses on.

During a talk following the performance, playwright Hillel Mitelpunkt spoke about his inspiration for writing the play, and what it meant to bring it to an American stage. Mitelpunkt emphasized that this was not just a play about an Israeli group of friends, and instead urged the actors to view their characters in terms of their personality and flaws, not nationality. People are "corrupted by the ways they cannot see any chance to make a change in their life," he said, and hoped this message would resonate universally.

The play, supported by the Embassy of Israel and attended by the Israeli ambassador, is self-critical of Israel, but not neccesarily of its government. Instead, it criticizes the citizens who condemn the war yet fail to uphold any semblance of moral fortitude in their own lives. If it is truely critical of anything, it is critical of people failing to make a change. For, as Mitelpunkt said, those who are capable but cannot make a change in their own life cannot change political life, and this failure to do something may, in fact, be just as bad as a hit and run.

The Accident runs through March 8th. Tickets are $42, or $21 under 25 years old.

The Accident
Director: Sinai Peter
Playwright: Hillel Mitelpunkt
Theater J
16th St. NW, Washington, D.C.

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