BWW Review: SELLING KABUL at Williamstown Theatre Festival Resonates Deeply
As the audience settles in the pre-curtain darkness, the sounds of the hustle and bustle of the street or perhaps a nearby marketplace, are drowned out by the unmistakable thumping of a helicopter that swells to a thundering level and we feel its vibrating pulse.
The lights come up to reveal Taroon, a former interpreter for the US Military. Rustling in the hallway sends him scurrying for the safety of a nearby closet. Taroon lives in hiding from the Taliban in his sister's modest apartment in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afiya enters the apartment and retrieves her brother from his well-kept hiding place. She shares with him the news of his son's birth. The siblings share an overwhelming range of emotions including love, joy, fear, hope, desperation, and overwhelming anxiety as they await the return of Afiya's husband from the hospital with further information regarding the condition of the child and his mother.
Their conversation reveals the perilous dangers and risk involved should Taroon follow his heart, rather than his head, and leave the safety of his hiding place to be with his wife and newborn son. That conversation is abruptly interrupted by a visit from Afiyah's friend and neighbor, Leyla. When his brother-in-law, Jawid returns, he does his best to console Taroon while working to protect him from the dangers lurking outside the apartment walls. A plan is put in place to reunite Taroon with his wife and son and ferry them out of the country.
This world premiere drama directed by Tyne Rafaeli, Sylvia Khoury examines loyalty, empty promises, survival, and what it means to be left behind. The skilled and impressive cast includes Babak Tafti as the former interpreter, Taroon; Marjan Neshat, as his sister, Afiya; Omid Abtahi, as her husband Jawid; and May
Calamawy as their friend and neighbor, Lyla. We are comfortable with and drawn to them. We connect with them effortlessly and almost immediately. Their emotions are palpable. We feel them deeply as they wrestle with things one would never imagine they might have to, in a world where one is literally faced with doing what one must on a minute-to-minute basis in order to save lives. Their own, as well as those of the people they love.
The creative team includes: Scenic Designer, Arnulfo Maldonado; Costume Designer, Dina El Aziz; Lighting Designer, Jen Schriever; Sound Designer, Beth Lake; and Production Stage Manager, Brett Anders.
SELLING KABUL is a powerful, raw, riveting and highly relevant new drama that connects on a level seldom seen and rarely felt. The world premiere run continues on the Nikos Stage at Williamstown Theatre Festival through July 20. Visit: www.wtfestival.org for more information and tickets.