Sunday, 14 February 2016


I worry a little bit with highly topical content, but I needn't have done so with this play. It neither lectures nor teaches, it simply lays it all out, sparing none of those present (hurting them either through their dialogue or their representation). You will talk about this play for days.

Note: major spoiler alerts beneath the image

Is it bigotry that keeps Amir from his promotion? After all, it is given instead to an African American woman. Hardly the photo image of the older Jewish men who run the firm. So it is not as simple as bigotry, it's a specific occurrence that causes his downfall, an occurrence he did everything in his power to avoid. His wife is the one who pushed him to it.

"We never talk about this," she laments. Yet when he wants to challenge her views on Islam, it is she who refuses to engage. She is trying so hard to be ... open-minded? ... she creates this image of the world based solely she wants to see. She can accept no challenge, no dissenting voice. She has to insult the Renaissance for having caused "individualism" as opposed to Islam which remains subdued to a "whole", yet agrees with her friends the Bible should not be law. And is completely blind to her own husband's situation, she is entirely uncomprehending of how her decisions affect him. Her self-involvement is total.

Each character is def to others in his or her own way. Isaac praises the beauty of the Quran, without ever having read it. Amir himself chooses those linguistic interpretations of the Quran that make it sound the worst it possibly can.

Jory stands out as an interesting mix of hypocrisy and honesty. With everybody on stage fighting their angle, Jory lies about liking the salad. That appears to be her worst crime. The worst thing she says. She feels guilt over her promotion, coming as it does at Amir's expense. Though, of course, she will still take it. Order over Justice. That's how the world can function. It's a harsh view but she is credible when she explains it.

Ali/Hussein is the character that most broke my heart. He is young and is still trying to understand who he is. He is jostled by the examples in his life, everything that he is told will work, fails. Everything he admires, fails. Despite his smaller appearances on stage we are taken through various transformations and he leaves us feeling desperate at the end, not knowing what the correct answer is.

A word on the Atlanta production: it is a fairly intimate theatre, as these things go, and that helps the intimate stage setting. Tinashe Kajese in the role of Jory was a stand-out for me. The production was followed by a Q&A with the actors, and she spoke at length about the Jory we don't see on stage, it is clear she has created a whole character who lives beyond the lines of the script. This was apparent, in my view, in her interpretation. 

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