WITH SO MANY questions of justice and activism in today's political climate, what's a confused, artsy honky to do about Israel and Palestine? Well-known British playwright David Hare just takes a vacation and writes about it. We never find out what drives this moderate Englishman through the land where Ezekiel preached, Jesus died, and Muhammad ascended to heaven. But asking him why seems almost as absurd as asking Arafat and Barak the same question. Hare just seems to want to put his twopence into the mix.

That said, Via Dolorosa is and isn't about the Israel/Palestine question. Though set in the contentious badlands of Levantine language, faith, and national identity, Hare's explicitly autobiographical one-man show traces the process of a Brit goy reflecting on the fact that his maps don't even begin to describe these folks' territory. Luckily, Hare isn't an apologist for anyone, not even himself. He's honestly trying to orient himself, geographically and symbolically. During the process he picks up and splices local voices with his own: artists, intellectuals, politicians, and madly sane radicals. The always-engaging David Pichette carries off the range of characters and accents with grace and an only occasional over-polished consistency.

Beginning as a meditation on England's role in the establishment of the Israeli state, Via Dolorosa becomes a mess of meaning where Israel/Palestine is merely a rich context for, but not the essence of, a series of opinions. While familiarity with the nation's history certainly helps in following the play's references, travelers, students, and connoisseurs of the various flavors of privilege politics can all identify with Hare's questions. The struggle over territory and ideas is colorfully illustrated by, but not unique to, this closely watched corner of the Middle East.