Directed by Kip Fagan
Extended through May 7
By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
The world premiere of a new play by Zayd Dohrn exploring just how far tolerance will stretch. Emina (Tala Ashe) and Sam (Babak Tafti) are in love and want to get married. There's just one problem (well, more than one). Sam's parents, Peter and Carmen Osman (Ramsey Faragallah and Lanna Joffrey), are old school when it comes to religion: daily prayers on their prayer rugs and head covering for Carmen. Emina's folks, Raif (Ali Reza Farahnakian) and Naja (Heather Raffo) Almedin
are much more modern -- and Americanized. Their older daughter. Aisa (Francis Banhamou, who plays a dual role) is a bartender and likes to party a lot. She hides her lesbian leanings from them, but talks about everything with her sister, whose attraction to conservative Sam she doesn't understand. Neither do her parents. Naja had hopes that Emina would follow in her steps as a dancer and for Raif, a dissident novelist, his daughter's embracing traditions on which he turned his back is his worst nightmare.
"I know these people," he says angrily -- before the two families meet.
While Sam waivers in his own devotion to the faith, Emina embraces it and feels more at home with the Osmans, even when Sam's secret, which could split the couple up for good, is revealed.
What Are the Highlights?
Dohrn writes compelling characters propelled by human emotion rather than a political agenda (kudos!). The play raises questions about how far tolerance stretches, but also about how much the people we become are the product of our parents and how much we take our freedoms for granted. Its timely and shows that prejudice isn't only found among white Americans.
Director Kip Fagan steers strong performances across the board.
Takeshi Kata's set creates the completely different homes for both families and then provides a nice side transition toward the end.
What Are the Lowlights?
The theme of how these folks might have encountered prejudices from non Muslim Americans might have been interesting to explore. It's a little hard to know why Emina has embraced Islam so easily.
The Profane has been extended through May 7 at Playwright Horizons, 416 West 42nd St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 7:30 pm; Saturday at 2 and 7:30 pm; Sunday at 2 pm. playwrightshorizons.org
Costume Design by Jessica Pabst; Lighting Design by Matt Frey; Sound Design by Brandon Wolcott.
-- God's name taken in vain