Wednesday 15 May 2024

A Song of Songs - Review

Park Theatre, London


Written and directed by Ofra Daniel

Ofra Daniel and the cast of A Song of Songs

Written and directed by Ofra Daniel, A Song of Songs is an adaptation of the biblical poetry, originally ascribed to King Solomon. Whereas the in the original text, the poetry is framed as a dialogue between two lovers, Daniel hones in on just the female voice, centring the show around the character of Tirzah who recites the tale of her romance with an anonymous stranger in the streets of Jerusalem.

Drawing heavily on the poetry of the base text which, while beautiful in its recitation, creates a stark contrast with the newly written additions to the script, Daniel fails to match the original in both style and tone. Similarly, Hebrew language songs such as Elecha and Od Yishama were beautifully evocative, compared to many of the songs sung in the English narrative that felt muted and amateurish. Occasionally leaning into overacting at times, the seven main cast members remain on stage for almost the entirety of the show. The intimate nature of the Park Theatre demands more subtlety in performance which, at times during the evening felt like an enthusiastic school play. 

Daniel as Tirzah is a mesmerising lead, managing to keep the audience captivated even through some of the awkwardness of the on-stage costume and set readjustments. What really makes the show however, is the live band, led by clarinettist Daniel Gouly, whose backing music could almost be a show in and of itself. 

Marina Paz’s costuming was simple yet creatively constructed with scarves and shawls being used to convey different characters and a pleasing Spanish nod to music’s blend of flamenco and klezmer. The lighting however was sporadic with projections that often seemed out of place and which could have been toned down for the smaller space of the Park Theatre. 

With sound intentions no doubt, A Song of Songs could have been a fascinating spin on a very, very old classic. In this iteration however, Daniel disappoints.

Runs until 15th June
Photo credit: Pamela Raith
Reviewed by Dina Gitlin-Leigh

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