Review: AMM(I)GONE at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company

An eighty-minute ultra-creative theatrical experience.

By: Apr. 28, 2024
Review: AMM(I)GONE at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
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The semantics and silence that delineate love and disclosure are operating at full throttle in the probing personal story of playwright and performer Adil Mansoor in the theatrical experience that is entitled Amm(i)gone. As the uber-talented Mansoor invites his very traditional Pakistani mother to translate Sophocles’ Antigone into Urdu, one soon realizes that this is just the starting point of a very interactive theatrical exploration that soon unspools into a multi -layered explication of the issues of culture, faith, family, history and, most especially, the special bond between a mother and a son.

In this eighty-minute ultra-creative theatrical experience, there are dramatic undercurrents ebbing and flowing throughout such as the clash of contemporary culture with a more traditional culture, keeping love and concern at the core of one’s being and the universal conflict between a more overt legalism versus deep compassionate concern from the heart. The parallels between the concerns of the author and the play Antigone are very aptly portrayed throughout. Matters of the heart must break through boundaries of laws, cultures, and even social norms at times.

The co-direction by Lyam B. Gabel is superbly executed as each component of the author’s personal experience flows seamlessly into each new component. The sense of the author looking into the past via atmospheric family photos is visually realized by media co-designers Joseph Amodei and Davine Byon. (The family reminiscences of Adil’s younger self are moving and poignant). Co-Director Gabel and creator Mansoor also effectively present numerous scenes quite pointedly addressed to the audience to convey a very realistic and interactive feel to the production. Mansoor performs with fluidity and ease while conveying a myriad of moods and emotions throughout the proceedings.

The differing meanings that can be construed from different languages and writing and conversational styles is shown in the frequent interjection of conversational transcripts from mother to son. These communications show the true love, affection, and humor that the mother and son have for one another; they also show the longing for true, significant in-person communication.

The central overriding concern here is personal ----specifically, mother and son bonding especially when the son is queer and living with a partner but has not disclosed this to his mother. The tension between disclosure and non-disclosure is heartbreakingly conveyed in a near-final scene that I will not delineate for fear of spoiling what is such a necessary moment in this theatrical experience.

I wish that the play had devoted even more time to this mother and son connection for, indeed, it instinctively felt like this should be the core of this play. Perhaps some light tweaking of the writing to concentrate on this would make this unique play even stronger for dramatic and emotional connection (even though the Antigone parallels are intellectually stimulating, I do not think they are going to help pull in larger audiences).

Effective media coordination continued as very theatrical optic/visual presentation of filmed transcripts, photographic visuals of beautiful fabrics and film clips from various versions of Antigone added visual enhancement to the play.

Set design by Xotchil Musser (who also did the superb lighting) must be cited for the stage’s perimeters are bordered by beautiful and graceful design. Sound design by Aaron Landgraf is haunting and evocative.

If you are in the mood for a completely unique and transformative theatrical experience, do not miss the very personal and creative production of Amm(i)gone now being presented at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Running Time:  Eighty minutes with no intermission

Amm(i)gone runs through May 12, 2024, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company located at 641 D Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20004.

Photo Credit: Adil Mansoor in Amm(i)gone. Photo by Teresa Castracane.


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