Mark David Larsen

Golda Meir: a life onstage

Wendy Westerwelle brings out the drama of the towering Israeli politician's life in William Gibson's one-woman play at Triangle

Golda Meier’s story is one of the fascinating political tales of the twentieth century: the schoolteacher from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who became the fourth prime minister of Israel and guided her young nation through the tense days of 1973’s Yom Kippur War, when the country’s survival was deeply in doubt. She was a hawkish icon of a fiercely strategic form of feminism: Margaret Thatcher before Margaret Thatcher, a Hillary Clinton who won the vote. However they felt about her positions, she awoke in many people – women, men, schoolchildren – a rising sense of the possibilities of what could be done in the world, and who could do it.

When we first meet her in Golda’s Balcony, William Gibson’s one-woman play that opened Thursday night at Triangle Productions, it’s 1978 and she is 80 years old, nearing the end of her life. “I am at the end of my stories,” she almost whispers as embodied by actor Wendy Westerwelle, and then proceeds to spin a web of them for ninety minutes, alone onstage, with no intermission.

Westerwelle as Meir. Photo courtesy Triangle Productions!

The tales take her back to her early days in Milwaukee, after emigrating with her family at age 5 from Kiev – moving first to New York, and two years later to the Midwest. Here, in Milwaukee, is where she meets the young Jewish socialist Morris Meyerson, whom she begins to date and then marries on condition that they move to a kibbutz in Palestine. Here, in Palestine, the young Zionist’s life seems truly to begin.

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