Review Roundup: Wendy Graf's World Premiere of ALL AMERICAN GIRL at InterACT Theatre Company

Playwright Wendy Graf (No Word In Guyanese for Me) explores the journey of an "all American girl" (Annika Marksand Jeanne Syquia, alternating) as she develops from innocent youth to radicalized extremist. Anita Khanzadian directs the world premiere of All American Girl for InterACT Theatre Company, which opened July 3 at the Lounge Theatre in Hollywood.

Let's see what the critics had to say:

Bonnie Priever, The provocative dialogue that ensues, performed alternatively by actresses Annika Marks and Jeanne Syquia, is brilliant, as the performer dons a mélange of accents, props, and mannerisms to portray many characters. We see on the news every day a situation where people are communicating violently and know no other way. Graf, in her heartfelt show, helps us to make a really difficult conversation into a productive one. Hopefully the message of this show will empower people to move the American/Muslim dialogue in a nonviolent direction. At a time when ISIS is recruiting women, now comes this exciting play, filled with twists and turns.

Suzanne Birrell, Discover Hollywood: Anita Khanzadian skillfully directed this solo performance, a tapestry of many colors and textures. Joel Daavid created an effectively attractive while functional set design. The intimate black box Lounge Theatre was the perfect venue. All American Girl is a daring and intelligent piece. It stimulates conversation. It is art at its finest. The audience seemed loath to leave at the end of the evening. Many stood around and thoughtfully discussed questions raised by the performance.

Rob Stevens, Graf's play, the tight direction of Anita Khanzadian, the sound design Joseph "Sloe" Slawinski and the mesmerizing performance of Annika Marks (alternating in the role with Jeanne Syquia) really have you on the edge of your seat until that point. At the performance I attended, Annika Marks played Kathleen with astonishing skill and assurance, holding the audience spellbound with her command of character and text. In addition to bringing Kathleen to life, the actress also had to impersonate, in a twinkling, the likes of parents, friends, a school principal, police, preachers and imams - not to speak of the man she married, an Indian Muslim named Iqbal. Kudos to Ms Marks! It depicts the life of an American girl who becomes thoroughly radicalized and resorts to violence. The story will grip your guts and not let go until karma triumphs.... Syquia's tour de force performance is the reason to see this show. She impersonates a dozen different characters so vividly via gestures, accents and expressions, we feel we're seeing a fully cast play. Her emotional range is boundless, from carefree youngster to subservient wife and mother, into a raging radical.

Stage Scene LA: WOW!... powerful, thought-provoking... under Anita Khanzadian's astute, visually imaginative direction... layers of depth and complexity... an all-around superb design team help make All-American Girl the winner it is.

Gil Kaan, Playwright Wendy Graf totally deceives in naming her world premiere All American Girl. A much more appropriate and honest title would have been Anti-American Girl.

Myron Meisel, Stage Raw: "RECOMMENDED... intriguing and articulate"... "Syquia has mastered a means of maintaining her wide-eyed ingenuousness even as it morphs into a mask concealing her growing bitter outrage and white-hot anger at the incessant indignities and injustices of the world."

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