Monthly Archive for: ‘November, 2016’
Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat: Drama/Comedy by Yussef El Guindi. Directed by Torange Yeghiazarian. Golden Thread Company, Thick House, 1695 18th Street, San Francisco, CA www.goldenthread.org or call 415-626-4061. West Coast Premiere October 30-November 20, 2016
A dynamic Our Enemies: Lively Scene of Love and Combat lives up to its title at the Thick House
There are many ways to protest perceived injustice and Yussef El Guindi has devised a unique method in the first scene of his stunning play Our Enemies: Lively Scene of Love and Combat. His protestor Gamal (James Asher) a struggling Arab-American writer detests the way Arab culture is represented in print and TV news media. He peacefully invades a TV talk show host’s studio where Moshen (Kunal Prasad) a successful “Americanized’ Arab author is about to be interviewed. Posing as the make-up man he without Moshen being aware creates a clown face with the word “whore” written on the forehead before the interview begins.
This unique method is replaced by another clownish action when he pushes his girlfriend’s birthday cake into the face of Sheikh Alfani (Munaf Alsafi ) the respected leader of a mid-town Mosque with his son Hani (Salim Razawi) nearby because of statements made during a TV interview. Be assured these acts will come to haunt Gamal.
El Guindi ‘s command of dramatic construction is superb. He layers event upon event in multiple scenes that fit together piece by piece until the jigsaw puzzle is adroitly and dramatically complete with more than a soupcon of satirical humor with a dollop of sex.
After his initial jab at talk show hosts he turns his attention to manipulative book editors expertly exemplified by Olivia (Annemaria Rajala) in an interview with Noor (Denmo Ibrahim ) a budding female author and girlfriend to Gamal who initially resists the suggestion that her romance novel should be more autobiographical with emphasis on the struggle Arab women have in a male dominated milieu. This would make the book more salable. When she eventually rewrites the novel the media blitz begins with an interview with a talk show host.
Rounding out the story line is charmingly addressed when the completely American son Hani travels to Egypt to meet for the first time his extended family. This section of the play adds a touch of humor as Hani describes in letters to his father the dichotomy of the two worlds.
With all the characters in place the emphasis on the polarization between Arab and American culture takes center stage with some characters being passionate and others ambivalent giving a well-rounded picture of the struggle of Arab Americans to defy their stereotypic image.
The most vocal and impressive members of the superb cast are Gamal and Noor played to perfection by James Asher and Denmo Ibrahim with director Yeghiazarian giving all the cast members chances to shine. She is aided by the technical upgrades to the intimate Thick House venue. This includes a HI fidelity projection screen that adds power to the clever minimalist staging buttressed by light and sound.
Running time is about 2 hours and is highly recommended.
CAST: Dale Albright, (Earl, Russell, Father Carol); Munaf Alsafi, (Sheikh Alfani); James Asher, (Gamal); Denmo Ibrahim, (Noor); Kunal Prasad, (Mohsen); Annemaria Rajala, (Olivia); Salim Razawi, (Hani).
CREATIVE TEAM: Torange Yeghiazarian; (Director). Kenan Arun (make-up consultant), Cassie Barnes (lighting designer), Michael Truman Cavanaugh (stage manager), Naseem Etemad (assistant stage manager), Beckett Finn (technical director), Courtney Flores (costume designer), Devon LaBelle (props designer), Kevin August Landesman (projection designer), Carla Pantoja (fight choreographer), George Psarras (sound designer), Benjamin Shiu (production assistant), Mikiko Uesugi* (set designer).
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.