Glenn's Review Of The Band's Visit at Playhouse Square

November 13, 2019

Photo by Matthew Murphy

I got the chance to see The Band's Visit this past week, which is at Playhouse Square through November 24th.

The synopsis is..shall we say, different.. It takes place in 1996, a band called The Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra just arrived in Israel, expecting to be welcomed by a representative from a local Arab organization, but no one shows up. The group's leader, Colonel Tewfiq Zakaria instructs another officer, Haled, to purchase the group's bus tickets. At the ticket office, Haled asks the clerk for a ticket to the city of Petah Tikvah, but due to his Egyptian accent, the lady misunderstands him and sells him tickets to the isolated desert town of Bet Hatikva..and off they go.

OK, I get it, this doesn't seem like the musings of a "Wicked" or "Hamilton", and indeed, it's not.​  In greater Bet Hatikva, the band experiences people who are not used to seeing..Life. They hear stories from the locals of an almost Groundhog Day way of living.  Nothing changes, and there's nothing to look forward to.  The band quickly realizes they need to make the best of their geographical mishap and decide to divide and conquer; meeting a few cafe workers in hopes that they can get back to the Arabian embassy in time for their performance. One thing is for sure, they are not in Kansas anymore.

Everything about The Band's Visit is done with one thing in mind...Keeping things understated.  Music?  Incrediby gifted musicians, but let's tone down those numbers.  Stage sets?  A few are good, but no more.  Lights?  Simple.  Emotional attachment to the characters?  Overwhelmingly yes.  Is a blockbuster  "I Dreamed a Dream" moment needed for a musical to win over 18 Tony Awards?  Certainly not.

In fact, The Band's Visit is perfectly happy in it's simplistic skin and you will be too.  Although I feel the theater was sometimes too big for what they were trying to accomplish, the message was still intact and powerful. The live music was amazingly intricate and powerful , but like a pair of Air-Pods with a dying battery, you are left wanting more..much more.  Despite the lack of theatrics, you realize that the things that have the biggest impact on your life aren't things at all..They are the relationships you form..Some, just till the morning. 

For more info and tickets to this amazing show, click HERE