Review: AVAAZ At South Coast Repertory

A World Premiere developed in SCR's 2022 Pacific Playwrights Festival as part of The Lab@SCR

Video: First Look At The Gay Men's Chorus Of Los Angeles Disney PRIDE In Concert

AVAAZ is incredibly sweet. But so much more.

Playwright and lead actor Michael Shayan's homespun solo show, AVAAZ, about his Jewish-Iranian immigrant mother, is layered with all the complexities of a mother/son relationship. The dynamic interface between them given a light touch through simple storytelling by Shayan. Most of the broken fourth wall, coffee-klatch-like evening is spent moving about in high holiday regalia, in and out of one reminiscence or another, as his mother Roya. In her home in Tehran-geles (formerly known as Westwood) she speaks to the audience, in comical diversion, and waits in the hopes of Michael's arrival for the traditional New Year celebration. It's been so long since he's come around.

But peel back the glittering costume, onstage table settings, dramatic gestures, and gossipy anecdotes and you will find that there is a direct, emotionally powerful story of a woman who lives in the light of joy even through the suffering of pain. And there is a son holding all of it for her.

According to Shayan, his mother never actually told him much about her past. Usually, when asked, she'd manage to deflect or avoid the conversation altogether. And throughout the evening we can understand why. All these years she has kept so many beautiful but heart wrenching memories of the childhood home she loved and the severely repressive, theocratic country she escaped from as a young teenager after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. She spent much of her somewhat displaced life giving it up to other people, in order to keep her family together as much as could be managed. Shielding her son. Staying silent. Not knowing much about her small new world. Not even speaking the language for a long time. Just walking ever forward. One foot in front of the other.

Then one day, her son asked permission to formally interview her with a recorder. And the floodgates opened - as much as they could. Somehow, Shayan says he channeled the rest and captured his mother's very heartbeat.

Shayan's love is clear. Regardless of their complicated history. And what begins as a lovely evening ends with an understanding of a woman's courage and sheer determination to fully live. It's potency underlined by how personal such a feeling is for everyone wanting the same, Iranian or not. Mellifluous in speech and as warm and soft and welcoming as the often enigmatic woman whose shoes he is wearing on stage, the entire 100 minutes with Shayan is joyous and triumphant for both son and mother.


Starring Michael Shayan as Roya

Written and Performed by Michael Shayan

Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel

Scenic Design: Beowulf Boritt

Costume Design: Joshua "Domino" Scwhartz

Lighting Design: Amith Chandrashaker

Sound Design: Noel Nichols & UptownWorks

Projection Design: Yee Eun Nam

Vocal Coach: Lauren Lovett

Dramaturg: Abigail Katz

Stage Manager: Ntalie Figaredo

Casting: Joanne DeNaut, CSA

Approximately 100 minutes with no intermission


THE PITCH to Open at Madnani Theatre in July

Waterfront Productions will present The Pitch, written by Tom Alper, directed by Louie Liberti, and produced by Tom Alper and Christine Blackburn at Madnani Theatre. The production runs July 1- July 23, 2023. Performances are Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3:00 pm.

Photos: LA PIÑATA Premieres This Weekend In Los Angeles!

LA PIÑATA, written by comedian Jerry Garcia, with music and lyrics by Grammy and Latin Grammy award-winning children's musician Lucky Diaz, directed by Drina Durazo premieres on Saturday, May 27, at Art Share LA. See photos from the production!

World Premiere of ACCOMMODATION Comes to the Odyssey Theatre in June

Christopher Sepulveda & 3Gems Productions present a visiting production at the Odyssey Theatre, the world premiere of ACCOMMODATION, written by Greg Burdick and directed by Brandon Baer & Garrett Baer. 

World Premiere of EXODUS: THE SHANGHAI JEWS Comes to L.A. Theatre Works

 L.A. Theatre Works presents the world premiere of Exodus: The Shanghai Jews, an original, commissioned audio docudrama by Kate McAll.

From This Author - Tracey Paleo

Tracey Paleo is a voting member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle.  She is also the publisher of the arts & culture site Gia On The Move.... (read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# For the Love of a Glove: An Unauthorized Musical Fable About Michael Jackson As Told By His Glove
Carl Sagan And Ann Druyan Theater (5/05-6/17)Tracker PHOTOS VIDEOS
#repshow# in[i]# Celebration Theatre presents A New Brain
Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center (4/29-6/24)Tracker
#repshow# in[i]# Gunhild Carling Big Band
Catalina Jazz Supper Club (6/14-6/14)Tracker VIDEOS
Coachella Valley Repertory (7/20-7/20)
#repshow# in[i]# Alonzo King Lines Ballet: Deep River
The Wallis (6/09-6/10)
#repshow# in[i]# CHRISTIANE NOLL LIVE!
Coachella Valley Repertory (6/22-6/22)
#repshow# in[i]# Eleanor
North Coast Repertory Theatre (6/07-7/02)
#repshow# in[i]# The Ants
Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater (6/20-7/30)
#repshow# in[i]# Hello, Dolly
Sierra Madre Playhouse (6/09-6/18)
#repshow# in[i]# ¡FIESTA!
Bob Baker Marionette Theater (4/01-6/25)

Recommended For You