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Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of NOURA?



Playwrights Horizons presents the New York premiere of Noura, a new American drama from 9 Parts of Desire playwright and actor Heather Raffo, continuing her longtime collaboration with director Joanna Settle, November 27-December 30, in the Mainstage Theater at Playwrights Horizons

Noura is set in the home of its titular character, a former architect from Mosul. She and her husband now have a successful life in New York, and, eight years after having fled their home in Iraq, they've finally gained citizen status-which Noura, as an Iraqi Christian, is celebrating by planning the perfect Christmas dinner. But when the arrival of a visitor stirs up long-buried memories, Noura and her husband are forced to confront the cost of their choices, and retrace the past they left behind. With compassion and startling clarity, Raffo's play considers a woman's options across two nations, and exposes the fragility of the structures-nationalities, marriages, mores-in which we consider ourselves at home.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Jesse Green, The New York Times: Ms. Raffo, herself Iraqi-American, not only stars in the play but wrote it, and could thus customize the role to her considerable strengths as an actor. She'd done so before, in her 2004 breakthrough, "Nine Parts of Desire," giving a bravura performance as nine Iraqi women. Her Noura is so complex that she seems to encompass all nine. The resulting play is compelling and ambitious but also, under Joanna Settle's direction, a bit blurry. With so much going on inside the title character, much of it contradictory, the audience may feel, along with her family, flummoxed by her whipsawing.

Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld: The company does fine work under Joanna Settle's direction, but the ninety-minute play seems to simmer a bit too long before rushing into the anticipated climax that comes after a rather calculated revelation. But what works about Noura is Raffo's exploration of the question of balancing the traditional American lifestyle with the traditions of a homeland one is forced to flee.

Melissa Rose Bernardo, New York Stage Review: Noura is no Ibsen retread; it's very much Raffo's own-an intriguing exploration of marriage, motherhood, heritage, and community that lingers long after its 90-minute conclusion.

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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