Some people will do anything for love.
Eileen stole a man’s wallet to pay for her ticket to London. Ali stole Eileen’s heart to repay his parents. Dov is a secret agent who poaches strangers’ secrets.
The English Bride, a new play by Lucile Lichtblau making its New York debut at 59E59 Theatre, is based on the true story of the “Hindawi affair,” a failed attempt to blow up an El Al flight from London to Tel Aviv in 1986. Nezar Hindawi, a Jordanian national, convinced his five-months-pregnant Irish girlfriend Anne-Marie Murphy to fly to Israel to meet his parents in preparation for their marriage. She didn’t know that he’d packed plastic explosive into the lining of her wedding dress.
Ms. Lichtblau’s rendition of this story is presented as a love triangle of sorts. Dov, the Mossad investigator, woos, cajoles and seduces a story out of Ali and Eileen. Both of them feel betrayed — justifiably, of course — and want revenge on the other. He claims she got knocked up to trap him; she almost died in a fiery deathtrap with three hundred strangers. But in the end no one gets exactly what they want.
Well, Dov might. Though the format of the drama might mislead the viewer into thinking Dov is discovering what actually happened, in fact he is trying to spin what happened into a narrative that helps Israel’s anti-Syria, anti-Assad foreign relations campaign. He says as much to Ali, who insists he was working from personal motives. Dov also contradicts the Mossad psychiatrist who claims Ali’s terrorism is rooted in personal tragedy.
During the Hindawi affair, Syria made exactly this claim — that Israel was trying to frame it as a state sponsor of terrorism. Suddenly the three actors on the stage take on not only the weight of their own psychological dramas, but the burden of representing their countries and cultures in a historical allegory. Who is naive, and who is knowing? Whose culture is young, impetuous and in need of disciplining? Israeli Arabs? The Postmodern West?
The English Bride, like the old comedies of Restoration England, reads love as a dangerous emotion that obscures the real objective in a romantic relationship. Once again, all is fair in love — and war.