Theater Review - The Blessing Of A Broken Heart – An Intense Story of Love and Grief

 

Children are not supposed to die before their parents, but there are times when the natural order of things is reversed and the family, friends and surrounding country must somehow survive.  They must not only deal with their own angst, but somehow turn their moments of sorrow into open doors for others that also suffer. 

“I feel sorry for the person who was killed, but I feel sorrier for the people left behind,” said 13 year-old Koby Mandell at the funeral of a friend’s father who had been murdered by terrorists. 

Lisa Robins in The Blessing Of A Broken Heart - Photo by ZacharyAndrews

Three months later, May 8, 2001, this same boy, Koby, and his friend, Yosef Ishran, left their home not far from Jerusalem, headed for school.  However, they never reached their destination.

When they hadn’t returned by sunset, his family – Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell, their friends and relatives - began a search culminating 24 hours later in a cave not far from their home.  The boys, brutally beaten, had been dragged into the cavern.  Blood stains from their final struggle still visible. 

Lisa Robins in The Blessing Of A Broken Heart - Photo by ZacharyAndrews

  This 90 minute, one woman show, staring Lisa Robins, who oddly enough says that she went through some of the same religious questions that faced Sherri as she matured, brought tears and laughter to the portrait of the mourning mother.  An exceptional actress, Lisa’s movements synced well with the story and the excellent direction she received from Todd Salovey. 

Going through depression, frustration and not knowing where to turn, Sherri and her husband finally realized that they had to turn their anger and rage into something productive to help those suffering. 

While this intense story takes place in Israel and is about the murder of a Jewish boy and his family’s survival, the theme is a universal one and can easily be related to any mother suffering the loss of a child and is a must see. 

The Blessing Of A Broken Heart, now playing at the Braid, The Jewish Women’s Theatre (JWT), off of Colorado in Santa Monica until March 20, 2016 , written and directed by  Todd Salovey was adapted from Sherri Mandell’s book of the same name – The Blessing Of A Broken Heart- and produced by Ronda Spinak with Susie Yure, Patrick Conde, Barbara Koletsky, and Rose Ziff  assisting.  Giulio Cesare Perrone designed the set, while Kristin Swift Hayes did the lighting and were assisted by Zemmer LenoirMary Larsen worked with the costume.   Ali Viterbi assisted the director, while Tom Jones did the sound and excellent projections.  

The Blessing of A Broken Heart - Photo by ZacharyAndrews

Over the years, The Koby Mandell Foundation has brought light and hope to over 10,000 bereaved family members, helping children, parents or other family members who have suffered from terror attacks to heal and once again have hope for the future.

 Sherri and her husband Seth are recipients of the ADL award for Partners in Peace  and she tells me that the book has been optioned for a movie and I look forward to seeing that.  Her newest book is The Road To Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press, 2016.)

This life-affirming play demonstrates a buoyancy of human spirit that reaches to all cultures and religions.  It shows how we can find meaning in the depths of darkness by transforming grief into kindness.

Lisa Robins in The Blessing Of A Broken Heart - Photo by ZacharyAndrews

Reservations can be had by calling 310  315 1400 or 900 838 3006.   Tickets are $35 with performances Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 pm and 7:30 pm.  Check out the book and more information about Sherri Mandell and The Koby Mandell Foundation. camp

The JWT, itself, is an eclectic community of artists and creators in Los Angeles area.  

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