In a way, you're better off seeing this show performed outside of its native Israel where, unless you're absolutely fluent in Hebrew, you'll require the assistance of the local supertitles on the screen behind and beside the stage. Glancing over to catch translation for the latest remarks made in either Hebrew or sign language, you uncover a layer of this performance that is purely coincidental but nonetheless thought-provoking: What would it be like to hear, but not see? Or to see, but not understand?
Not by Bread Alone calls on its 11 deaf and blind actors to demonstrate what they can do in the kitchen, where they bake loaves of bread, on an open stage full of imagination and ambition, and beyond. While the bread bakes, the cast introduces themselves to the audience and shows off their unique qualities and talents.
The Tel Aviv-based Nalaga'at Theater troupe travels around the world telling their stories as only they know how. Common themes resound throughout the show, highlighting the darkness and silence they all face, but also the optimism and hope they experience from collaborating and commiserating among each other. It's not just the eleven of them who seem to be so touched; they're accompanied by a group of translators who speak on their behalves at times, and who are there to shuttle actors on and off stage so they don't miss a beat.
The choreography and precision that goes into the staging of this show is something to marvel at. During one scene the actors form a line hand in hand to help escort their cohort from one end of the stage to the other. On other occasions, the troupe deliberately leaves the stage bare for someone to dance and embrace the spotlight.
It's all intended to conjure up what a typical day might feel like at their hometown BlackOut Restaurant, where the actors are just simply bakers. Director Adina Tal does a beautiful job not only showing how much these people are capable of achieving, but also how much they lift each other up. Their love and support for one another radiates in every scene. Once the bread is ready, the play ends. But they invite the audience up to share the hot food with them. It's their way of expressing how much we all have in common and can gain from shared experience.