Fringe Fest: Baum's 'Impossible to Translate' Easily Entertains

'Impossible to Translate'  at Goethe Institut
'Impossible to Translate' at Goethe Institut

One-woman performances bring up one question: can a single storyteller actually hold an audience’s attention for the entire show? You might be tempted to think not.

But, Israeli storyteller Noa Baum does just this, defying any skepticism.

In “Impossible to Translate, But I’ll Try," her first show in the Capital Fringe Festival, Baum engagingly and humorously carries the audience through waves of memories. She narrates everything from growing up as a young Jewish girl in Jerusalem to living as an Israeli adult in America. Through five distinct stories, Baum invites us to meet her beloved “bubbe” (“grandmother” in Yiddish), learn about her namesake, the original Jewish feminist, watch her fall in love – twice – and reflect on the meaning of motherhood. As a Jewish viewer, I related to her stories, appreciating the rawness of her experiences.

Imagining Baum's Israeli childhood through her verbal vignettes, the audience hears a unique, loving perspective on a country most often associated with violence and vengeance. We learn about neighborhood hideaways she enjoyed with friends in Jerusalem and the dating scene. Her honest, warm tone conveys youthful frivolity and happiness and humanizes Israel in a refreshing, engrossing way.

Baum, an experienced storyteller, is quite funny. Her mannerisms, Yiddish interjections and voice changes keep the audience laughing. Her show primarily draws a 40-and-over-crowd, but the relatable humor and self-deprecation in her show also make it family-friendly.

Seventy-five minutes of memories and laughter later, the audience will have its question about one-women shows answered: yes, it is possible. Baum proves it.

Tickets are still available for shows on Sunday, July 21, 5:45 p.m., and Sunday, July 28, 4:45 p.m., at Goethe Institut, 812 7th St. NW, Tickets can be bought at www.capitalfringe.org/.

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