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Southern Florida by John Lariviere

Back of the Throat
Thought Provoking
Outre Theatre Company

Also see John's review of Carrie the Musical

Jim Gibbons, Rayner Garranchan and Tim Gore
The Outre Theatre Company presents Yussef El Guindi's thought-provoking play Back of the Throat at Sol Theatre in Boca Raton. The one act, 75 minute play is about a young Arab-American man named Khaled (Rayner G. Garranchan), who finds himself detained in his own apartment by two government agents, Bartlett (Jim Gibbons) and Carl (Tim Gore), who interrogate him regarding his possible involvement in a recent act of terrorism.

What becomes clear is that generalizations, profiling, and prejudices are just dangerously close variations on a theme. It doesn't really matter toward what racial, social, political or religious group it is directed. We all may end up taking a turn being the next group of people viewed, at the very least, as problematic to the idealized American way of life. For just a moment, think of how many American heterosexuals view the quest for legalization of same sex unions to be a violation of their own rights, and an infringement on their way of life.

Back of the Throat examines how safe any of us would be if our lives were examined under a microscope, with every aspect viewed as a potential indicator of our possession of a questionable thought, allegiance or motive. One must also face the question of how far members of law enforcement or the military are willing the bend the civil rights of its citizens to secure the perceived safety of the country. How easily could any of us become victims rather than those protected citizens. Imagine a world where we might all be subjected to a modern day version of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), where people who know us, and who may or may not bear us a grudge, are asked to defend and define our character—as are the characters played by Faiza Cherie, who are asked to speak about Khaled in this play. Back of the Throat is intentionally unsettling, and succeeds in prompting thought for the need of a greater conversation on this subject.

Faiza Cherie is polished in her roles as Khaled's ex-girlfriend and a cowgirl-clad stripper. She is a skilled actress with a genuine ease on stage, and awareness of her body and the space around her. Jim Gibbons (Bartlett) masters the calm, cool, creepy restraint of his nearly villainous character. It's not a broadly painted villainy, but made none-the-less dangerous because of his character's unpredictability. His acting sets up Garranchan perfectly. As Khaled, Garranchan maintains a plausible, nervously uncertain energy throughout the show. We get to see visible moments where he seeks to understand the magnitude of what is happening, and tangibly battles trying not to panic, as he loses control of what is happening to him. It is an admirably well directed performance in what must be an emotionally exhausting role.

Written by Arab-American playwright Yussef El Guindi, Back of the Throat was first performed in San Francisco in 2005 by Thick Description and Golden Thread Productions, before appearing in Seattle later that year. It was performed in New York City in 2006 at The Flea Theatre. The play was voted Best New Play of 2005 by the Seattle Times, and nominated for the 2006 American Theatre Critics Association's Steinberg/New Play Award. The title is a reference to the Arabic pronunciation of the "K" in Khaled's name, which should sound like an "H" placed at the back of the throat.

The Outre Theatre production of Back of the Throat will be appearing through November 9, 2014, at Sol Theatre located at 333 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, FL 33431. Show times are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 5:00 pm.. For tickets and information you may call them at 954-300-2149 or visit them online at

The Outre Theatre Company began in 2011. They are an emerging professional theatre company hiring local Equity, and non-Equity actors and actresses. Their vision is to be a theatre that nurtures the creative spirit of individuals and the community, through original and established works, utilizing a variety of mediums to engage the souls and imaginations of the artists and the audience. Their mission is to create theatre which stimulates thought, provokes reflection, and encourages activism.

Khaled: Rayner G. Garranchan
Bartlett: Jim Gibbons
Carl: Tim Gore
Shelley/Beth/Jean: Faiza Cherie
Asfoor: Freddy Valle

Director: Skye Whitcomb
Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Sabrina Lynn Gore
Scenic Design: Jordan Armstrong and Skye Whitcomb
Lighting & Sound Design: Stephanie Howard
Props: Jennifer Murphy and Murphy Hayes
Costume Design: Sabrina Lynn Gore
Fight Choreography: Seth Trucks
Stage Manager: Jennifer Murphy

Photo: Shannon Ouellette

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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