The Araca Group and Lincoln Center Theater
Hari Dhillon, Gretchen Mol, Josh Radnor
By Ayad Akhtar
Danny Ashok and Karen Pittman
Directed by Kimberly Senior
A Schubert Organization
149 West 45th Street
Scenic Design: John Lee Beatty
Costume Design: Jennifer Von Mayrhauser
Lighting Design: Kenneth Posner
Sound Design: Jill BC DuBoff
Production Stage Manager: William Joseph Barnes
Technical Supervisor: Juniper Street Productions
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Casting: Caparelliotis Casting
Strategic Marketing: on the Rialto
Company Manager: Edward Nelson
Assoc. Producer: Gregg Christenson
Exec. Producer: Marisa Sechrest
Foresight Theatrical/Allan Williams
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 30, 2014
Having seen Disgraced two years ago at Lincoln Centerís Claire Tow Theater, I wondered how each element of the production - script, set, cast, timing, gesture, even key conflicts, might be altered. Kimberly Senior once again directed, and Karen Pittman remained as Jory, with the other four roles now played by Hari Dhillon as Amir, Gretchen Mol as his artist wife, Emily, Danny Ashok as Amirís young nephew, Abe, and Josh Radnor as Whitney Museum curator and Joryís husband, Isaac. On the larger stage, before a much larger audience, the action and impact were less compressed, with the inherent tension of Ayad Akhtarís play now reverberating more from physical expressiveness than theatrical understatement.
When Amir is asked by Abe to help an Imam, who has ties to Hamas (Amir and Abe have Pakistani birth roots), Mr. Dhillon begins to twitch, in shoulders and face. Those twitches later become a slow, nervous attack, as Mr. Dhillon is dealing with smaller publicity damage at a market, and larger damage at work, with his firmís partners, who now realize Amir is from Pakistan, not India, as his original application indicates. Mr. Dhillon morphs before our eyes, first denying his reliance and inclination toward his religious-socio-political education in Islam, and later acting on his ingrained upbringing, toward a womanís place in marriage. Emily, meanwhile, paints with reverential references to Islam, finding designs and colors to add to her signature artistry. Isaac might include some of Emilyís paintings in his new Whitney show, so Emily and Amir invite Jory and Isaac to dinner. One might say the guests roast each other, as one revelation after another unfolds, through fits of temper and jealousy.
Jory and Amir are vying for promotions in the firm, Isaac is vying for attention from Emily, Emily is looking for her career break, and Amir crawls out of his Americanized skin in explosive angst. In fact, Emily has painted her husbandís portrait, as a Moor, with unsettling, realistic nuance. Amir looks at this portrait in a rare moment of internalized silence. Mr. Dhillon has embodied this role with persuasive detail of tone and expression. As Emily, Ms. Mol morphs from a comfortable Upper East Side, educated artist to a victim of spousal abuse, as Amir resorts to his trained belief in punishment. Once again, the very vicious incident appears to leave no scars or affliction, no pressing of charges, and a casual forgiveness, amidst the goodbyes. This all should change.
As Jory, Ms. Pittman, once again, is strong, sharp, and an aggressive lawyer, one who takes on each of the other three dinner partners, including her husband. As Isaac, Mr. Radnor, as well, is persuasive and combative, in a more understated manner. As Abe, Danny Ashok morphs from his own Americanization to his Islamist roots and name. John Lee Beattyís scenery, with an offstage apartment terrace, is tony luxury. Jennifer Von Mayrhauserís costumes seem well suited for this Manhattan foursome, and Kenneth Posnerís lighting is bright and warm.