Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Golden Thread Productions: "ReOrient 2019" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

The delicious thing about reviewing theater is finding the gems. It was exciting to see Golden Thread Productions' 20th Anniversary production of ReOrient 2019, seven short plays written by writers dealing with issues pertaining to the Middle East or to Hyphenated-Americans with Middle Eastern backgrounds. Acting, humor and powerful subject matter were evident in each show; somewhat disheartening was how few people were in the audience. These terrific shows deserve far greater exposure. Hopefully, audiences will build as the run continues.

There were no clinkers. Each show was weird but understandable, with lots of words but no slowdowns in action. Perhaps it helps for a show to be five or ten minutes long. This also eliminates the issue of shorter and shorter attention spans.

The opener, "The Grievance Club" by Rendah Heywood, is a showstopper. Atosa Babaoff plays a seriously pissed-off banker, eager to perform physical mayhem upon the list of aging white men who have eagerly signed up to receive it. Babaoff returns as Maysoon in Yussef el Guindi's "Brass Knuckles." She is determined not to allow her anger to destroy her. She says "Today I will have more empathy for people who are assholes."

Lawrence Radecker is perfect as a guilt ridden Turkish Lieutenant in Mustafa Kaymak's "The Basement," delivering platitude after platitude to a journalist as bodies are hauled away in body bags.

We also loved Sofia Ahmad and Ali-Moosa Mirza, two adults playing eight-and-ten year-old Syrian children, whose besieged lives are illuminated only by Harry Potter in Lameece Issaq's "Noor and Hadi go to Hogwarts." This is a sad one, but perhaps not as chilling as Naomi Wallace's "The Book of Mima," in which the plight of Yemen and its children is played out in a monologue attributed to a Saudi Tomahawk Missile. This is truly brilliant writing, packing a punch and terrific performance by Lawrence Radecker.

We also enjoyed the other two shows, the futuristic "In Spenglic" and "An Echo of Laughter," in which a Hitler who does nothing but guffaw still manages to command the stage.

The show continues until Nov. 17.  Go soon. You will want to tell your friends.

RATINGS: ☼  ☼  ☼  ☼ 

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants Four Stars to "ReOrient 2019." Do not expect major productions with costume changes and elaborate sets. What each of these seven shows does is make us think, while also giving us room for hope.

"Golden Thread Productions:"ReOrient 2019"
Potrero Playhouse
1695 18th Street, San Francisco
Through Nov. 17

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