photo: Joan Marcus
In Betty Shamieh's provocative, stunningly lyrical and sometimes darkly funny The Black Eyed - currently being New York premiered in a brilliant production at NYTW and easily one of the most exciting new plays I've seen so far this year - four Palestinian women from different historical periods congregate outside a mysterious door in the afterlife, unsure if they are in heaven, hell, or some terrible limbo. Each of their lives was deeply altered by violence: they spend the play trying to make sense of and peace with it, sometimes with profound humour and sometimes with passionate urgency. The play is bold and thematically ambitious - the characters' reach through the ages (for instance Delilah, from Biblical times, is right alongside a modern-day secular architect) widens the playwrights' questions about oppression and violence beyond the context of modern-day conflicts. That's one of the play's strongest qualities: it pushes buttons about terrorism, religious divisiveness, and warfare, but none of them activate hate. The play has a humanity-affirming bird's eye view and it challenges us to take one too.
Also blogged by: [Aaron] [David]