Itai Erdal is an accomplished and award winning lighting designer. He originally wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, but life sometimes surprises you and you don’t always get what you want. As his mother remarks: “There is harsh reality and not so harsh reality.“
[pullquote]Erdal claims he is not an actor and that may be true, but he is most definitely a brilliant storyteller.[/pullquote]Erdal’s mother appears in a film he started to make when she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He returned home to Israel to help out in ways he could not have foreseen. How To Disappear Completely is the story of that trip home.
How To Disappear Completely is intriguingly constructed; sometimes we are given fascinating lessons on how lighting works on stage and what different moods and effects can be created with different lamps, then a curtain is pulled back to reveal a screen where images of his mother, his sister and his best friend are projected. Sometimes there are subtitles and sometimes he translates.
Erdal claims he is not an actor and that may be true, but he is most definitely a brilliant storyteller. Stories include: a drug-fueled rave, a rape by a fish, and a fight with his sister – all are imaginatively told with charm by an affable man. As he takes you into his mom’s final days the script could easily become manipulative, but it is treated with the same passion and straightforward factual detail that it makes you lean in to know more.
Director James Long stages the show playfully and that makes the unhurried story telling very appealing. Erdal is now touring this show around the world, which speaks to how affecting it is. It’s a show that makes you smarter without making you feel like you are at a lecture.
It’s simple, always authentic, and brilliant storytelling.
How To Disappear Completely written and performed by Itai Erdal. Directed by James Long. A Gateway Theatre presentation. On stage at Gateway Theatre (6500 Gilbert Rd, Richmond) until November 22. Visit https://gatewaytheatre.com for tickets and information.