Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Profane

This one by Zayd Dohrn creeps up on you.  In the beginning you are quite sure there will be some cultural issues - but even up to intermission you are not entirely sure with whom they will be.  Turns out the playwright perhaps could have done a better job, at least earlier on, of identifying the beliefs and points of view of the characters.

Not all is lost, however.  Once you pick up on the family and cultural disconnects, you're fine.  Both families are Muslim, which, as stated is not clear up front.  You first meet Raif (Ali Reza Farahnakian) and his family Emina (Tala Ashe), Aisa/Dania (Francis Benhamou) and wife Naja (Heather Raffo).  His daughter is bringing home a boy Sam (Babak Tafti) for an unspecified reason. It is not until Act II that we meet Peter's family Peter (Ramsey Faragallah) and his wife Carmen (Lanna Joffrey).  Cleverly disguised as a mysterious member of the family is again Francis Benjamou.  This is where the plot thickens.

The gist of the plot is that two Muslim families really have two entirely different beliefs and outlooks on religion, culture, freedom, and America itself.  Yes - it turns out to be true that Islam is not a one-size-fits-all religion.   Worry not, religion is never even brought up - this entire conflict is brought up by placing the two children at the center of the family drama.

Without spoiling what goes on- suffice to say that the play explores many avenues and points of view and does not really take one - but rather plays out the inevitable clash between them.  There's definitely another play in here - as there were too many unexplored avenues and opportunities to explore characters more.  And I would certainly look forward to hearing the playwrights expounding on any number of the avenues he explored in this excellent family drama.