Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2013’
Fallaci: Drama. By Lawrence Wright. Directed by Oskar Eustis. Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley. 90 minutes. (510) 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org. Through April 21, 2013.
FALLACI A DRAMATIC ‘TWO HANDER’ AT BEREKLEY REP
If you are not familiar with the name Oriana Fallaci you are not alone. If so, plan on arriving early to read the program and discover she was an Italian journalist that became famous for her confrontational yet influential interviews of people in power as well as the famous in Hollywood. These included Quaddafi, Castro, Kissinger, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir among others. Where journalists are expected to be factual without bias, she injected her personal views often being accused of writing self-serving articles that had more than a touch of fiction.
Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright is himself a journalist famous for his essays in The New Yorker and best-selling books about al Qaeda and Scientology. He also writes plays and has acted in many of his own monologues. His journalistic background qualifies him to create a script where a fledgling journalist undertakes to interview Fallaci and before the evening is complete the pair is inextricably fused.
Fallaci who has been diagnosed with lung cancer has become a relative recluse in her New York apartment. Maryam (Marjan Neshat) a neophyte female New York Times reporter arrives to interview Fallaci (Concetta Tomei).
When Fallaci discovers that the purpose of the visit is to obtain data for her obituary the first conflict begins. Bit by bit Wright feeds scraps of information about each character into the play. Maryam is an Iranian and her family were resistant to the oppressive regime. Similarly Fallaci’s family were resistance fighters to the Italian fascists regime in World War II. Fallaci herself became an active fighter at the age of 14. After dropping out of medical school she became a full time reporter in Italy with an astounding career that brought her to the United States and places throughout the world. Her stint in Vietnam that reported the atrocities committed there where written after her actual visits to the front lines. She even interviewed the North Vietnamese. After the 9/11 downing of the World Trade building she wrote a scalding book denouncing Muslims that sold 500,000 copies in Italy.
The play is written in three scenes and the second scene takes place three years later. A more mature Maryam is back to confront Fallaci and we learn that Maryam had returned to Iran suffering severe indignities. The verbal exchanges between them start out as arguments about their differences but by end of the second scene their differences become shockingly similar and by the end of third scene, that is an epilog after Fallaci’s death, ends the evening on a hopeful note.
Neshat and Tomei are both superb and director Oska Eustis keeps the verbal sparring and the stage movements flowing adding emphasis to a rather strange play that will keep you thinking and may influence you to go to the Internet to find out the whole story about this tiger of a woman.
Photo: – courtesy of kevinberne.com – Marjan Neshat portrays a young woman sent to interview Fallaci – Concetta Tomei portrays legendary journalist Oriana Fallaci
Kedar K. Adour, MD