October 30, 2014

The Tel Aviv shoreline is suddenly before us, made of paper cutouts sized for child’s play: palm trees, beach umbrellas, a sign that warns that swimming is forbidden. Beyond is blackness, we hear a small splash. Our nameless hero has slipped into the Mediterranean, determined to swim toward freedom. Set in a dystopian Israel under siege from within, Zvi Sahar’s theater piece Salt of the Earth, a production of PuppetCinema and HaZira Performance Art Arena, is making its American premiere at BAM Fisher. Blending puppetry, live action and video, the play has the quality of a dark dream, much like its source, the 1984 novella The Road to Ein Harod by Amos Kenan. The hero is attempting to reach a part of Israel not yet in the clutches of the military. “And here I am, fleeing from my country toward my country,” he says. In this streamlined, somewhat remixed adaptation, the narrative may not be easy to follow, if you haven’t read the book. What makes this production notable, and often captivating, is not the story itself but the way Mr. Sahar and his hardworking collaborators (Shai Egozi, Yuval Fingerman, Michal Vaknin, Aya Zaiger) tell it, making and remaking their landscape before our eyes.