Watching Disgraced for a straight 90 minutes (no intermission)
you'll most likely find yourself sitting, knees curled, toes
dangling above the floorboards, knuckles coiled, pale and tense,
breath held and attention locked.
New Yorker Ayad Akhtar's new play, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer
Prize for drama, accomplishes everything you hope for from a play,
but so rarely get.
Without spoiling the show (as the
hand-raised-to-gaping-mouth-shock is of course paramount to the
experience), the play is set in post-9/11 New York, and follows
Amir a slick top-tier lawyer who although a Muslim and from
Pakistan has muted his background, swapping his surname for Kapoor
and tweaking his family lineage to Indian, and his white, American
wife Emily, an artist who draws on Islamic themes and symbols in
her work. The mood goes from still to carbonated when the couple
host a dinner party at their Upper East Side Apartment, with
Emily's (Jewish) art curator and his (African American) wife and
colleague of Amir.
The skill, grace, wit and candour with which playwright Ayad
Akhtar and director Nadia Fall traverse issues of race, religion
and even, deep breath, terrorism is astonishing. Relevant,
provoking without being unduly provocative, it is a piece of
theatre not to be missed.
By Bridget Arsenault
Disgraced is showing at the Bush Theatre until June 29th