Rubber Merchants

A play with choruses

And then an old curtain creaked open, a feeble yellowish light rose across the stage, and three miserable people stood up there on the floorboards with some cardboard and rags, and droned on about our lives for two long hours, as though there was anything there we didn’t already know.

Translated by: Naaman Tammuz

Premiere: 1978
Directed by: Hanoch Levin
Theatre: The Cameri Theatre
Number of characters: 3
Subjects: Relationships, Desire

Costume and stage design: Yoram Gal

Original music: Shosh Reizman

Participants: Albert Cohen - Shmuel Sprol; Yossef Carmon - Yohanan Tzingerbei; Zaharira Harifai - Bella Barlo

Musicians: Micha Blecherovitz - piano; Yeshayahu Bark - guitar; Orly Idan - clarinet; Peter Tuval - accordion


Yohanan Tzingerbei, an ageing bachelor with a certain fortune and occasional customer of rubber contraceptives, goes into a pharmacy and obtains not only two packs of condoms but also the home address of Bella Barlo the pharmacist, an ageing singleton like himself.  At that exact moment, Shmuel Sprol - another bachelor beyond his prime, charming but ill and the recent beneficiary of a vast stock of condoms from his father he is trying to realise in cash - happens to pass by. Sprol wants to sell his merchandise to Tzingerbei, who falls in love with Barlo, who in turn sees the attraction of the latter's savings but also the former's charm. Tzingerbei rejects Sprol's incentives for buying the stock of rubbers and a happy life, interested only in Barlo, though he'll only allow her a chunk of his savings in exchange for a substantial part of the pharmacy - a condition Barlo inexorably rejects. Barlo instead yearns for Sprol who is indifferent to her love, and who places unattainable conditions on his entering into the bonds of marriage as well as too high a price on the rubber stock which Barlo is willing to buy cheap and sell for a large profit. 

Can you figure your way out of this mess? Our protagonists can't either.

(From the programme)

Additional productions

The Cameri Theatre (1983) / Featuring the original cast

The Khan Theatre, Jerusalem (1995) / Directed by Jack Messenger, with Gabi Amrani and Bassam Zuamut

Haifa Municipal Theatre (2005) / Directed by Moshe Naor, with Israel Poliakov, Moshe Ivgi and Rivka Noyman

This work was translated to: English, Polish, French

English  Barbara Harshav, Stanford University Press (2003)

French  Théâtrales publishing, France (2009)

Polish    ADIT publishing, Poland (2009)