'Honeypot' review or 'Not enough sting in the tail.'
‘Honeypot’, Julia Pascal
New Diorama Theatre, Saturday 15th October 2011
Written for Time Out
The Olympics have always been an uneasy combination of supposed global unity and simmering political tensions. This conflict is normally played out far from the stadium but, in the 1972 Munich Olympics, the Palestinian group Black September ruthlessly murdered 11 Israeli athletes.
Julia Pascal’s play, ‘Honeypot’, examines the aftermath to this atrocity, during which female agents were hired to ensnare and assassinate the Palestinians responsible. The ‘honey’ in question is Susanne, a Swedish lass who discovers her Jewish heritage only at her father’s funeral. Desperate to ‘do something for Israel’, she abandons her family, flies ‘home’ and signs up with the Mossad.
Once in Israel, Susanne (Jessica Claire) is interrogated and trained up by agent Koby (Paul Herzberg). Whilst Pascal writes intelligent dialogue, these early exchanges feel a little over-orchestrated and the initially sparky dynamic grows stiff. Pascal never really grapples with Susanne’s motivations and, whilst her commitment to the cause is repeatedly tested, the reasons behind her extraordinary sacrifice remain buried too deep.
It is only once Susanne goes in cognito that her character starts to convince. Initially girlish and strangely naïve, there’s steel in her eyes in the later, sexier encounters. The double-edged dates between Susanne and Munich mastermind, Joe, are thick with contradiction; surprisingly tender but punctuated with explosions of suspicion.
But although Pascal’s set pieces are sensitively written, they don’t frighten like they should. Joe is almost too sympathetic and Susanne never seems in danger. Their dramatic showdown feels overblown and the final gunshot seriously backfires.