Shaw Theatre, London NW1
It is not hard to see why Tovah Feldshuh received a Tony nomination on Broadway.
It is the Yom Kippur War and Feldshuh’s croaky-voiced Golda Meir cuts a lonely figure puffing on endless cigarettes and grappling with military and moral dilemmas.
But what energises Scott Schwartz’s production are the figures in Meir’s political and personal life — the emotionally austere Kissinger, a surprisingly panicky Moshe Dayan, a lugubrious King Abdullah of Jordan and, during the flashback scenes, a young, flirtatious Golda in Milwaukee, where the future Israeli leader was raised. All these supply Feldshuh with a variety of characters to sink her teeth into.
There are, though, some overwrought moments. It is hard to imagine Israel’s matriarch ever dropping to her knees, even when relieved of having to decide for or against a nuclear strike, which, according to Gibson’s play, was perilously near.
Still, Golda’s Balcony — the title refers to the gantry from where she viewed scientists working at Israel’s Dimona nuclear base — serves as a reminder of the necessity of Israel’s existence after the Holocaust. And Feldshuh delivers one of the best performances on the London stage. (Tel: 0871 594 3123)