Peace Warriors
Warehouse — Mainstage

Remaining performances:
July 12 at 11:00 am; July 23 at 9 pm; July 25 at 1 pm

They say: Academic ambition, Middle East politics, old affairs and new seductions come together in a darkly comic and powerful new play. Four academics and one teenage girl spend a tumultuous night flaunting their peace activism and confronting their deepest passions.

Sheffy says: Middle East peace lures four “professional leftists” together at the Lewis household—and yet, this play does not involve any Arabs. Israeli-born American historian and playwright Doron Ben-Atar instead focuses on the conflict among Jews on how to react to Israel’s occupation and treatment of Palestinians. While all the characters are Jewish, their religion is Radicalism. Picking a fight is in the job description of an activist; actual quotations from anti-Zionist Jews are used in the play (although some quotes were so offensive they were edited out of the original draft for seeming too unrealistic). Checkpoint demonstrations are appearing on college campuses. In “opposing apartheid policies” some academics are boycotting their Israeli colleagues (and in turn being accused of “anti-Semitism”). While acknowledging the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people, Ben-Atar’s World Premiere production intends to depolarize the dialogue.

The able cast convincingly executes the script’s eloquent rhetoric, providing ample fodder for post-show discussions. Some plot details, though, bothered me—-the unrealistic reaction of 17-year old Gwen Lewis after overhearing certain revelations regarding her mother and one of their houseguests is unrealistic, say, or the husband’s inappropriate sexist comments that don’t jive with his otherwise progressive attitudes (after living in Berkeley, I think I know the type).

At the center of this play is a family drama involving infidelity, both physical and intellectual. The marriage between two college professors hits a rough patch; while she’s in Gender Studies at Yale, he had to take a teaching job at a nearby inferior school and is perceived as an academic failure. The wife (who was inaudibly quiet, unfortunately, save for a pivotal midnight outburst) is uncompromising in her extremism and morally blind to alternative views—not to mention selfishly unaware of her husband’s sacrifices. As her husband searches for authenticity, she accuses him of losing his soul. In the world of identity politics, a sex affair is not grounds for divorce, but changing your political beliefs is.

See it if: You skipped the screening of “Deep Throat” on your college campus to attend an alternative feminist event.

Skip it if: You’re only in it for the politics (unless, that is, you get off on academic political intrigue).