Saturday, February 02, 2008
That George Packer succeeds so well as a journalist-turned-first-time-playwright is a tribute to how rich and powerful the source material for Betrayed is. The number of Iraqi dead is always glossed over, especially as we try to avoid mentioning how many US troops have actually died, but that's not even considering how badly we've screwed some of the Iraqis who would help us. What Packer's play manages to do is show the ridiculous dichotomy of the Red Zone/Green Zone division of Iraq and the lack of real information that brings the government, and it does so through the idealism of Bill Prescott (Mike Doyle), a young US agent, and his three Iraqi co-workers: polite, Metallica-loving Laith (Sevan Greene); pessimistic, necessity-driven Adnan (Waleed F. Zuaiter); and the liberal, intelligent woman, Intisar (Aadya Bedi). The tragedies in this play are true, and therefore even harsher, and given the excellent acting, these human faces are even harder to ignore than when they were inked in The New Yorker. Pippin Parker's direction for the Culture Project is clear and crisp -- if it is a little too methodical, that's forgiven, along with Packer's lazy exposition, in the attempt to bring a powerful message back home.