The Arty Semite

Recording Misery for Coping's Sake

By Matthew Rovner

  • Print
  • Share Share
Matthew Rovner
Roy Horovitz as Yotam in ‘My First Sony.’

On October 30, the one-man theatrical adaptation of Benny Barbash’s novel “My First Sony” premiered in Seattle with two performances, the first in Hebrew, and the second in English. Performed by Roy Horovitz, the play revolves around Yotam, a precocious 11-year-old who copes with his crumbling family life by recording every painful event on his Sony tape recorder.

Yotam and his family live in Tel Aviv, but the bittersweet misery that they experience is universal. Yotam’s father, Assaf, is a failed playwright and the sort of man who seduces his friends’ wives and cheats even on his mistresses. He treats Yotam with intense affection — he gives him the eponymous tape recorder — as well as utter disgust. He even destroys his son’s first Sony because Yotam is fat.

Yotam is, unsurprisingly, an anxious mess. He punctuates his anguished yet humorous monologues with audio playback of his childhood traumas. These are not the only things being recorded, however. Yotam’s father is ghost writing the memoirs of Holocaust survivors, a fact which brings out the similarities and differences between mundane and extraordinary suffering, and the equally pressing emotional need to remember and to forget.

Although the play is supposed to take place during Yotam’s childhood, as interpreted by Horovitz, Yotam comes off as an emotionally stunted adult reliving the most scarring events of his formative years. That effect may be unintended, but it contributes to the poignance of the story. Horovitz has performed as Yotam for 14 years, yet he is still fresh and compelling. I saw only the English performance, and it is apparent that Horovitz is adjusting to the challenge of playing the character in English. At times, his anxiety about language enhances his characterization; at other times, his discomfort pushes the acting toward the histrionic. Horovitz was also working in a postage stamp-size performance space, which may have contributed to the overwrought qualities of his portrayal.

“My First Sony” has been adapted for Israeli television and as a multi-character play. It has not, to my knowledge, been adapted as an audio drama. But, the intimate nature of the play, the fact that it is a one-man show, and the central use of audio recordings make it ideal for the L.A. Theatre Works treatment.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Theater, Tel Aviv, Seattle, Roy Horovitz, My First Sony, Matthew Rovner, L.A. Theatre Works, Benny Barbash

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.