Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Director Yury Urnov has staged the play in the theater's Smith/Melton Rehearsal Hall, placing the small audience (general admission) on the same floor level and only a few feet away from the simple living room set designed by Misha Kachman. The play appears to be a tangled romantic comedy involving Hadeel (Shannon Dorsey), her boyfriend Ahmed (Tim Getman), and their friends Youssif (Joe Mallon) and Bana (Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey)but just wait.
The first sense that something more is going on comes from the pulsating, insistent sound design by James Bigsbee Garver, which shifts to atmospheric if overly pushy mood music as the characters gather, and the obvious presence of a hanging microphone above the stage. The dramatic context is that the four friends regularly gather to watch a soap opera on television and Bana is an actress, to add to the sense of self-reference.
The later addition of two other characters (Lelia TahaBurt, Ahmad Kamal) brings in another level of disorientation and confusion and, when the 90-minute performance is over, the audience will have a lot to think about and sort through.
Urnov has guided the four main actors into risk-taking performances that start out rather silly andespecially in the case of Fernandez-Coffeyultimately delve far deeper than the viewer would expect.
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company