Solo show written and performed by David Hare. In 1997, after many invitations, the fifty-year-old playwright David Hare resolved finally to visit the fifty-year-old state of Israel. The resulting one-man play meditates on an extraordinary trip to both Israel and Palestine, as David Hare re-creates his encounters with 33 different people from many different backgrounds and many different viewpoints on the conflict between Arab and Jew. The effect is to leave him questioning his own valves as searchingly as the powerful, deep and sometimes violent beliefs of those he met.
1998: West End London Premiere
Previewed 3 September 1998, Opened 8 September 1998, Closed 3 October 1998 at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs (at the Duke of York's Theatre)
The Royal Court presents David Hare performing his stage monologue Via Dolorosa in London
Directed by Stephen Daldry, with designs by Ian MacNeil, lighting by Rick Fisher, and sound by Paul Arditti.
Presented by the Royal Court Theatre at the Duke of York's Theatre, which was used as the Royal Court's temporary home while their theatre in Sloane Square was undergoing a comprehensive refurbishment.
"David Hare went to visit the state of Israel, and the result is a 90-minute monologue spoken by him and directed with the utmost visionary simplicity by Stephen Daldry. I don't know what I expected, but certainly nothing as intelligent, tragic, humorous and humane as this. The introduction had me worried that it might turn into public meditations by a self-deprecating celebrity; but it soon became clear that this piece is about commitment and truth... His Via Dolorosa leads him to the realisation that he can understand questions but can offer no answers. The piece is intensely personal, but never preening: an act of faith in humane unbelief, stoical but deeply felt." The Sunday Times
"David Hare is a natural writer for this project. His plays have always been distinguished by journalistic flair. He has a quick ear for a telling anecdote, a point of view that makes him ask sharp questions, and a lack of ideology that allows him to hear the answers... He makes a better job of clarifying these disputes than many newspaper reporters. He does so without ever claiming to be other than an amateur sleuth, a dramatist on leave... Nevertheless, there is a problem. Hare is in the position of impersonating himself. Obliged to impress the audience with his sincerity no jacket, rolled-up cuffs and furrowed brow he is strenuous, detracting from his own words by repetitive hand mimes and emphases... He is in danger of seeming not only to embellish, but to make things up when the good thing is that he is telling the truth." The Observer
"David Hare proves to be an eloquent and graceful performer apart from a habit of launching into emphatic gestures and then cutting them short... Hare visited the country for the first time last year... his record of this experience is packed with facts; but, for all its mistrust of imagination, it is a play in the sense that it features a protagonist and a quest. And in Stephen Daldry's production, featuring a flying model of the holy city, it is articulated just enough to dispel any lecture-hall associations... The effect is theatrical rather than journalistic because the characters are as important as the argument; and because Hare brings them ferociously to life with out passing judgment." The Sunday Telegraph
Via Dolorosa in London at the Duke of York's Theatre, previewed from 3 September 1998, opened on 8 September 1998, and closed on 3 October 1998
1998: UK Radio Premiere
Sunday 4 October 1998 on BBC Radio 3
Performed by David Hare.
Directed for radio by Kate Rowland.
A radio version of the original West End production.
2000: UK Television Premiere
Sunday 19 November 2000 on BBC 2 Television
Performed by David Hare.
Directed for television by John Bailey.
Based on the original West End production.
2002: 1st West End London Revival
Previewed 17 July, Opened 18 July 2002, Closed 31 August 2002 at the Duchess Theatre
A revival of David Hare performing his stage monologue Via Dolorosa in London for a strictly limited season
Directed by Stephen Daldry, with designs by Ian MacNeil, lighting by Johanna Town, and sound by Paul Arditti.
"David Hare's take on the flashpoints of the Six Day War and the assassination of Rabin is sharp and fascinating. In a white shirt and dark trousers, the slightly gauche, slim and charming 55-year-old playwright stands before us, slightly glazed, looking as though he's reading off an autocue (he's not). Anger bursts forth at the hopelessness of it all: 'We all see only what we want. Don't we blank out the rest?'... Descriptions of trips to Palestinian strongholds in Gaza and Ramallah are superb journalism, and his visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum, is as heartstopping as going there yourself. Stones or ideas, he wonders, as he travels back to his house in Hampstead, where passion recedes up the broad, tree-lined English streets: his own personal Via Dolorosa." The Daily Mail
"Why is he still so gauche in his performance style, why couldn't he just stand behind a lectern and relax, why couldn't he have updated the material, or at least acknowledge its relative datedness? There is almost a hubris to his persistence. And yet after 90 minutes in his presence, in which one has watched his eyes dart this way and that with the strange blind sightedness of a clairvoyant, something has softened and changed. Hare listens to harsh, uncompromising voices as well as dissenters and sceptics like himself. He realises how desperate the situation is yet, through it all, manages to maintain a tone of incredulous humour that stops well short of glibness." The Daily Telegraph
"When it first opened four years ago, the Palestinian crisis was bubbling away nastily, but it wasn't headline news. Now it is. Weirdly, Hare has done nothing I could see to update his account which is now having its second run in the West End... Still, I suppose he figured this monologue was more topical than ever and, however unpromising a 'monologue' may sound, this is genuinely riveting. It is a refreshingly serious, moral, passionate and very funny account of life in the Middle East. Hare cares desperately, and he is a good raconteur as well, telling of his meetings with Arabs and Israelis with gleeful relish, and he has enough stage presence to make it work." The Daily Express
Via Dolorosa in London at the Duchess Theatre, previewed from 17 July 2002, opened on 18 July 2002, and closed on 31 August 2002