Monday, December 10, 2018


I expected to like Noura, Heather Raffo's play at Playwrights Horizon. I knew it was about a Christian Iraqi family living in the US, which I found intriguing, and that it delves into assimilation and loss, individualism versus community, and lies and secrets, topics that are endlessly delve-able. In addition, it riffs on A Doll's House, opening all sorts of possibilities. I was optimistic going in.

As the play unfolded, I found I had questions. "Is he her father or her husband?" "What did she just say?" "Why do they keep walking around that large table instead of going straight to where they're going?" "Why does she keep standing around?" "Why isn't that recorded voice-over loud enough to hear clearly?"

Then more serious questions came in. "Would anyone really do that?" "Would anyone really say that?" "Is she speaking Arabic or just mumbling?" "Why don't they ever close their front door?" "Why is she mad at him for being angry when she was angry too?" "Where did the Play Station come from?"

And then came the worst questions. "Is Raffo really pulling out that old soap-opera-y trope?" "Can't she at least do a better job of it?" "What is this play about, anyway?" "And why should I care?"

Heather Raffo
Photo: Joan Marcus
Noura has received good reviews in previous productions, so there may be more to it than I perceived. However, my plus-one liked it less than I did, and the applause the night I saw it was tepid. Oh well.

Wendy Caster
(press ticket, row J)
Show-Score: 60

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