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BWW Review: DISGRACED at The Maltz Jupiter Theatre - An Exhilarating Human Experience

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The Maltz Jupiter Theatre's stellar reputation is facing no risk. If anything, the provocative, exhilarating night of theatre that is Disgraced brings a fresh immediacy to the once-sleepy South Florida theatre scene. With direction by J. Barry Lewis and a cast led by Fajer Kaisi, Disgraced is a must-see, not only for a 2017 theatre-goer, but a 2017 American.

The plot is simple: it follows a corporate lawyer, Amir (Kaisi), who denounces his born Muslim heritage and his wife Emily (Vanessa Morosco), a painter who draws inspiration from the very culture her husband avoids. The first scenes set up this dynamic by introducing Amir's nephew Abe (the spunky yet vicious Eddie Morales). When Amir and Emily have dinner guests (Joel Reuben Ganz, whose Isaac is a welcome volcano and Chantal Jean-Pierre, who matches him perfectly), and discuss current events, the concepts of patriotism, organized religion, and personal entanglements lead to high tension and human disaster.

While we're on the subject of disaster- one of the most astounding things an actor can do is enter in one piece and leave in a thousand. Kaisi, as Amir, executes this and more. Amir is immediately the most fascinating character in the piece, a multi-faceted and unpredictable ball of conflict in a 200 thread count shirt. The whole cast is able to present many of our most pressing issues from the perspective of both empathy and rage, sadness and pride (with the one exception of a few poorly executed stage slaps). Morosco starts stiff but loosens up into a beautifully honest performance; the climax of the party scene has you on the edge of your seat- gaping.

Lewis' directing style is brave and in your face, which, as a method, could easily dilute the text and reduce it to a preachy rambling. But the raw explosiveness brought to the table by Lewis that seems touchy and rough-edged at first glance has been finely tuned with expert hands, and the play becomes an implosion of personal identity, not to mention an ideal character study of not only Amir, but the Muslim-American experience. All of this is set in front of a bright and lavish "dream apartment" designed by Anne Mundell, a sharp contrast to the harsh words and thick tensions coming from the actors in droves.

I leave you with a piece of advice, then a cliché: See the Maltz Jupiter Theatre's Disgraced- it's anything but.


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From This Author Sofia Carianna, Student Critic