View From the Top

The rare story of a powerful female politician whose private life is secondary

Golda's Balcony tells an important story. Important not only for its depiction of a formidable woman and charismatic leader, but also for the way in which it helps to humanize, albeit in a partisan way, a political problem of such immense proportions and complexity that it resists comprehension, let alone the possibility of solution. Yet in emphasizing the political over the pastoral, the play sometimes goes too far, almost to the point of undermining its essentially feminist viewpoint.

For one thing, Meir's mother, as brought to life through Feldshuh, is reduced to a stereotype of the Yiddishe Mame, all nagging Ashkenazi bluster. For another, the play pokes fun at the idea that a young female Pioneer and rising star in the Zionist Labor movement might be interested in doing anything as demeaning as making matzo balls. But in My Life, Meir repeatedly states how much she enjoyed her years working in the kitchens at Merhavia Kibbutz in the early 1920s, because it gave her an opportunity to improve Merhavia's unimaginative menu. "I remained more concerned with the quality of our diet than with feminine emancipation," she writes. The production dismisses this aspect of Meir's character, but it is precisely such moments of following her instinct for the common good that Meir proves herself to be ahead of her feminist contemporaries.

Tovah Feldshuh's portrayal of Golda Meir is a 
hard-hitting counterpoint to the sentimental view of 
Meir in the U.S.
Aaron Epstein
Tovah Feldshuh's portrayal of Golda Meir is a hard-hitting counterpoint to the sentimental view of Meir in the U.S.


Through Aug. 13

Tickets are $20-69


www.act-sf.or g

Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F.

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Regardless of one's gender, the difficulty of reconciling the public and private spheres of life for anyone in a position of power is an insoluble problem. But popular culture should resist relegating the family-career conflict to plots revolving around female protagonists. Rod Lurie, take note: Isn't it time we had some male leaders on TV concerned about getting to their kids' soccer matches on time? And what about introducing a few females modeled along the lines of Meir?

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