Bar 51 – Apolonia’s Suicide Attempt

Amos Guttman
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In his work, Guttman loves contrasting good-old, upstanding, institutional Israel of yore with the decadent, fringe world of the gutter dwellers. Together, this discord and dissonance produce biting, ironic commentary (the kind of irony that is the very substance of camp), as well as a statement on macho, militaristic and so-called “proper” Israel. One scene that best illustrates this contrast finds Apolonia who is left feeling hurt after a row she’d just had with Thomas, her young lover, going for a soak in the bath.

Marianna, meanwhile, is sat in Apolonia’s tacky and kitsch-fuelled lounge, watching the grande dame of Hebrew folk music singalongs, Sarah’le Sharon on TV, trying to entertain the troops: “Some days, you start having all these thoughts and you just want to cry. But instead of crying, you sing. And when you sing in a group, you end up feeling amazing. That is the feeling I want all of us to experience here tonight; together. It’s a chance to sing only with our boys and girls in uniform, whose face may be a bit tired, but who are definitely up for a singalong.”

Whilst an accordion plays in the background and someone is heard singing, “a kind and fair-eyed girl we have in the Land of Israel / and the nicest ever boy you could ask or pray for,” Marianna notices all the bath foam overflowing from the bathtub into the living room. As it turns out, Apolonia, who could not be further removed from this image of the kind and fair-eyed girl, has just slit her own wrists.