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After the play, Mr. Wright told the Israeli audience that he hoped “holding up a mirror from a concerned and loving observer … might help people get a different perspective on what’s actually happening here.”

Mr. Wright said he found the audience receptive. “For the most part, they felt they had been honestly addressed,” he said.

Still, it was a tough crowd. Israelis, born into a conflict in which Mr. Wright is a transient if observant visitor, were suspicious of an outsider’s ability to understand their reality. His effort on opening night to widen his audience’s perspective seemed to only entrench many in their views, no matter where they stood on the political spectrum.

At a panel discussion after the show, Maoz Azaryahu, an academic, told the journalist-actor, “To tell you the truth, my empathy is contained. … My ability to contain the suffering of the other side is limited.”

“The symmetry bugged me,” said Michelle Perris, an audience member. For her, Mr. Wright’s performing for Israelis in Tel Aviv, but not for Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza, proved her point that the cultural divide was too wide to bridge.

“You can’t see this in Gaza. We can see this. This is the difference between us,” Ms. Perris said.