‘This Is Who I Am’ Evaluate: Cooking With Dad, Remotely
There’s nothing like a recipe from somebody you like to stoke the recollections. You pluck it from the leaves of the cookbook — or, when you’re neater than I’m, perhaps from a recipe file — and immediately they’re there with you within the kitchen, at the very least in your thoughts.
If that particular person is somebody you’ve misplaced, cooking or baking can turn into a sensory act of remembrance: whipping up a dish they as soon as made to nourish you.
At every step within the course of, your fingers and palms, shoulders and arms repeat motions that theirs used to make. Acquainted scents waft out of your spice jars and reducing board, then out of your range. And when the cooking is completed, that longed-for style is in your tongue.
Not less than when you’re doing it proper. In Amir Nizar Zuabi’s new livestreamed play “This Is Who I Am,” success has up to now eluded each the husband and grown son of a lady who as soon as upon a time, earlier than sickness took her, would feed them fteer, savory stuffed pockets of bread that she’d baked herself.
So right here they’re on a video name — the daddy (Ramsey Faragallah) at residence in Ramallah, within the West Financial institution, the son (Yousof Sultani) at residence in New York — resolved to re-create the dish correctly.
“You want me, and I want you,” the daddy says, “to retrace this recipe, so we make it like she used to.”
At a time when gathering on-line is usually the one solution to lay eyes on relations, this can be a promising premise for a two-hander — so promising that no fewer than 5 well-respected theaters throughout the nation have teamed as much as current Evren Odcikin’s manufacturing: PlayCo in New York, Woolly Mammoth Theater Firm in Washington, American Repertory Theater in Massachusetts, the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and the Oregon Shakespeare Pageant.
That stage of enthusiasm, sadly, raises expectations greater than this unsubtly staged play can meet. Carried out stay, with every actor in his personal kitchen, it opened bumpily on Sunday when, a couple of minutes into the present, a “We’re experiencing technical difficulties” message abruptly appeared on the display screen.
The trigger, a publicist instructed me later, was a connection drawback that made the actors look like out of sync — which in all probability explains why one appeared to step on the opposite’s line, and perhaps explains what appeared to be a perplexingly headlong tempo. After the present began over from the highest, the performances had been higher, and never as rushed. But the emotional tenor was nonetheless off.
“This Is Who I Am” is about love and grief and fathers and sons, and about how misperceptions get baked into our recollections, hardening into bitter resentments. It’s about notions of masculinity and cycles of violence in a blood-soaked land, and about how leaving to seek out peace someplace else can appear to be an act of abandonment even when it’s meant as self-preservation. It’s additionally about unseen sacrifices, and the whispered guarantees we make to the folks we cherish most.
Zuabi, whose site-specific “Oh My Candy Land” was carried out in kitchens round New York when PlayCo produced it in 2017, has folded many layers into this play, together with the sensible problem of taking as lengthy to inform its story because it takes to bake the fteer.
However this manufacturing, which runs a bit of over an hour (and whose audiences get a replica of the recipe by e-mail afterward), is just too blunt to coax the nuances of humor and care from the dialogue, too filled with hair-trigger anger to let both Faragallah or Sultani discover the quiet within the heightened language of reverie. It does, nevertheless, indulge the textual content’s moments of sentimental cliché.
Just like the recipe, the script is open to inventive interpretation. One important step could be to decrease the temperature.
This Is Who I Am
By means of Jan. 3; woollymammoth.internet.
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