"At times funny, poignant, or tear-inducing; Oded Yosef Kassierer's The Book of Oded: Chapter Two grabs hold of your attention in a totally involving, one-man retelling of a decade of Oded's life; and doesn't let go until the seventy minutes are over. Oded's gift of storytelling has him sharing every-day, yet memorable conversations between himself and his various friends, family and first lover Gil; seamlessly re-enacting them all in with only the slightest change of body language to distinguish between himself and who he's conversing with. Sammie Wayne, IV directs the charismatic Oded in a smoothly paced, totally conversational, informal tone.
Oded recounts of his initial blind date with the closeted Israeli lieutenant and how their relationship develops, with Gil not out to his fellow soldiers or most of his family. The first time Oded gets invited to dinner with Gil's family, a chance choice of clothes innocently illustrates his and Gil's like minds. Oded's relationship with Gil morphs into numerous configurations -closeted lovers, shared home dwellers with two dogs, caretaker-patient, exes, life-long friends. Oded's range of emotions so real all the time, then so deeply personal sometimes. And his dance moves so beyond hysterical!
With a few minor tweaks and a more generous production budget, this world premiere could easily fit very nicely in an intimate major LA theater (Geffen, Taper). The simple, single set (also designed by Oded) with clever four-sided prop pieces effectively and efficiently suggest the different settings Oded's in (his apartment in Tel Aviv, an APLA dance benefit in Los Angeles, a hospital room in New York).
The accolade "tour de force" would definitely apply here! Bravo Oded! Do check out this Book! Love to see what Chapter 3 reveals."
Brodway World Reviews:
The World Premiere of
THE BOOK OF ODED: CHAPTER TWO Rocks!
Sometimes it's tough to sit through a one-man show, as so many factors are in play. Not only the actor and the text, but the subject matter as well.
Nonetheless it all comes together beautifully in The Book of Oded, Chapter 2, Oded Yosef Kassirer's one hour plus a few minutes account of his life as a gay man in Los Angeles transplanted from his native Israel.
Prancing about a relatively bare bones set, cleverly containing some tall four-sided rectangular boxes mounted with different photos to help denote where he might be at any given moment in time, and sometimes striding up and down the theatre aisles, Mr. Kassirer describes with humor and occasional pathos the difficulties entailed finding love and a career in Israel and America and the chore involved becoming a legal resident.
It's not easy -- neither the story telling or the process -- but Mr. Kassirer keeps the audience engaged, sometimes with a scripted aside and sometimes improvising a retort to the reaction of one of the spectators, but it most importantly works.
Essentially anecdotal but intriguing, we learn about Mr. Kassirer's difficulties coming out in a sometimes still conservative Israel, though he informs us that the military was way ahead of America integrating gay service people into the ranks.
Still, when he became smitten with a young lieutenant named Gil it took quite awhile for the man to come clean to his family about his relationship with Oded, then broke his heart when he decided to try going straight, after which he headed to Los Angeles before ultimately sending for Oded to join him.
The journey to the States and the return back to Israel for a spell are delightful and poignant and, whether you are gay or straight, (witness the breadth of the audience watching it with me) it's well worth your partaking of the enjoyable enterprise written by Mr. Kassirer, directed by Sammie Wayne, IV and produced by Mr. Kassirer's husband Oscar A. Ibarra.
Playing at the Working Stage Theatre in Hollywood, 1516 N. Gardner Street, just north of Sunset, performances run at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays through February 15. Tickets are $20-25 and can be purchased by calling 323-375-1284 or at