Theatre Review: Disgraced – Riverside Theatre, Parramatta (16.06.16)

Disgraced – Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play is an enthralling experience for the audience lucky enough to find themselves in the Riverside Theatre of Parramatta. Director Sarah Goodes, along with designer Elizabeth Gadsby, expertly present the play and encapsulate audiences in a 90-minute sensation that stimulates thought, emotions, and further questions the notions of identity and belonging.

Amir Kapoor (Sachin Joab) is a Muslim-raised mergers and acquisitions lawyer, who works in a Jewish law firm. Amir, who has renounced his Islamic identity, finds himself involved in the case of a local imam who’s been indicted for raising funds to support Hamas. Upon the request of his nephew Abe (Shiv Palekar), Kapoor intervenes and consequently finds himself named in a prominent newspaper covering the story.

The play climaxes when Amir’s Anglo-American wife Emily (Geraldine Hakewill), hosts a dinner party with Amir’s work colleague Jory (Paula Arundell) and her art curator partner Isaac (Glen Hazeldine). In what is an intense, fierce, and alcohol-fuelled exchange, the play explores the much significant migrant experience of many Australians, which in turn, extraordinarily underpins the performance of Sachin Joab himself – an actor at the top of his craft.

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Although being set in America, the fluent and open-ended debate happening within this play commentates on the complex and intricate issues of what it means to be an Australian Muslim in contemporary society. Akhtar’s virtuosity exposes and challenges the preconceived ideas of Islam in a vivid and evocative manner, whilst also stimulating both political and moral thought in audiences.

However swift the ending of the play, Disgraced effectively encapsulates cultural concerns within modern society Australia on stage. It further brings to light the effect external factors in the world have on individuals.

Composer Steve Francis treats audiences to the mesmerising and spiritually stirring voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a renowned Pakistani musician, at the conclusion of the play. The traditional Qawwali music suspends the psyche to a tranquil state, allowing audiences to reminisce on the events of the play. A masterpiece in social commentary, Disgraced will instigate thought and emotions, whilst consequently entertaining audiences.

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The season of Disgraced has finished at Riverside Parramatta. The reviewer attended opening night, Thursday June 16th. For more information at Canberra Theatre from 22–25 June, head here.

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