Saturday, October 25, 2014

Disgraced @ The Lyceum Theatre

Bravo Kimberly Senior, director of Pulitzer Prize winning play, Disgraced, by Ayad Akhtar. How gutsy are you to dare to challenge an audience with such brazen ideas as: maybe the US had some culpability in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 or, that Muslims are the new “niggers”. Wow! Talk about shocking. People don’t even suggest such things in the privacy of their own homes, in the company of close was demonstrated in the staged dinner party on the fateful evening when secrets were revealed and lives changed forever.

But it wasn’t the revelation of the secrets themselves that was so horrifying; it was how the words spoken mirrored the inner thoughts we all have but don’t wish to admit to ourselves or our loved ones. And those thoughts, though intentionally provocative, only served to demonstrate how in this society, this so-called “free society”, we are trapped by convention and fear- damned if we do; damned if we don’t. Does one perpetuate the lie he lives, thereby being accused of duplicity; does she accept that which she’s not earned, taking full advantage of a work places need for a “token”? What is worse- to live a lie and get what we want, or be honest and lose what we never really had? Seems easy enough, except that we are all liars- made so by the conventions of so-called “polite society” which is really just a cover-up- gracious hospitality has replaced plain old grace which is the one thing needed for us to truly get along and which was lacking by all of the characters in this must-see play.

Hari Dhillon as Amir endears us with his all-too-pitiful desire to please and then takes us straight into an abyss that is his innermost sanctuary as he plays the accuser and accused. Gretchen Mol gives a believable performance as Emily, a waspy liberal whose naiveté would be charming if it wasn’t so self-serving. Danny Ashok, Hussein, AKA “Abe” provides a fair representation of a twenty-something whose youthful bliss is at odds with the harsh realities for a young Arab man in post 911 era in the US. Playing opposite of the couple are Josh Radnor as Issac, a pretentious and weak-willed man whose apparent strong convictions are simply a mimicry of what society has told him to believe. Conveniently, his wife, played by the gorgeous and talented Karen Pittman as Jory, lets him be pretty with his pictures while she clearly and unapologetically claws her way to the top of the law firm where she and Amir are associates. 

The Lyceum Theatre is the oldest in the City and is charming with its reflection of the lavishness of turn-of-the-century New York. Seats and loos are tiny so leave your shopping bags elsewhere. I will be very surprised if this does not win a Tony for best production, direction, acting. If it doesn’t, meh, blame it on the Jews. And if you think that comment is inappropriate, you better buckle up because that’s nothin’!

Review written by: Michele Seven
Pictures by: Joan Marcus

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