Wednesday, September 16, 2009


"Aftermath" at New York Theatre Workshop, September 12, 2009

Continuing their tradition of thought-provoking, contemporary material, NYTW brings us Aftermath, six stories of Iraqi refugees living in Jordan after the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. Their stories are derived from interviews conducted by authors Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen in Amman, Jordan in 2008.

Ms. Blank and Mr. Jensen have compiled these stories into an evening of theatre loosely strung together by a single interpreter, who seems to bear a good bit of disdain and contempt from most of the characters.

Most of them begin their tales with descriptions of Baghdad as a Middle Eastern Paris: beautiful, cosmopolitan and flourishing in spite of the dictator who reigns over them. Quickly the stories share the degeneration of life there as chaos ensues with the bombing. A Christian woman, taking her child to the pediatrician with her husband has her world destroyed by a roadside bomb. Two restaurant cooks, husband and wife, are run out of the country when a friend is taken into custody as a suspected terrorist. A theatre professor/director and his wife flee when his students are confronted by militia in a neighborhood tavern.

The stories are compelling, but the evening is not exactly theatre. It's more like a recitation, similar to Joan Didion's staged Year of Magical Thinking. The events described are horrific, but detached as they are delivered in monologue format. Actually dramatizing some of the action could certainly heighten the theatricality and effect.

Standouts among the cast are Amir Arison and the arrogant and put-upon dermatologist, Yassar and Rasha Zamamiri as Naimah, a cook.

Ms. Blank also directs, and paces the evening very nicely. The horrific moments are balanced with lighter ones to keep the audience from melting into tears or boiling over with rage at the way these people were treated. The political anti-war slant is direct and sharp.

NYTW is offering discounted tickets:

Tickets for performances on September 8 – October 4 are just $40.00 (reg. $65).

* Tickets must be purchased by September 14, 2009.

Use code AMSGN31 when ordering.

To purchase tickets, call (212) 947-8844 or visit

New York Theatre Workshop also offers both Student Tickets and CheapTix Sundays.

CheapTix Sundays: All tickets for all Sunday evening performances at 7pm are just $20 each! Tickets are available in advance but must be purchased at the NYTW box office on a cash-only basis.

Student Tickets: Full-time students with a valid student ID may purchase $20 tickets for all performances (subject to availability). Limit one ticket per ID. Tickets must be purchased in person and require an ID at the box office.

The NYTW box office is located at 79 East 4th Street (between Second Avenue and Bowery) and is open Tuesday - Saturday from 1pm - 6pm.

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