Ayad Akhtar
Through Feb. 18, 2018, at Left Edge Theatre

Jared N. Wright, Ilana Niernberger, Mike Schaeffer, 
and Jazmine Pierce

Photo by Argo Thompson

Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Disgraced pulls no punches in its 90-minute exposé of modern culture’s angst over faith and identity. The play offers perspective from the top—four highly successful people of diverse fields, diverse colors, and different backgrounds spar about the resonance of Islamic art, Jewish identity, immigration, terrorism, discrimination and more, in a witty, intelligent and ultimately biting exchange—one that simultaneously entertains and yet challenges its audience. Kudos to Left Edge Theatre for tackling this difficult and timely piece, and giving it a stimulating staging.

Amir (Jared N. Wright) is posing in his underwear and Emily (Ilana Niernberger) is sketching him in their upscale Manhattan apartment. He’s a well-paid M&A attorney, angling to make partner in his firm, while Emily is poised to make her big breakthrough in the heady New York art world. Amir’s Pakistani-Muslim past has been covered up by a change of his last name to Kapoor, which comes out when his nephew Abe (Adrian Causor) arrives to plead for his help. Abe’s own given name is Hussein, but “life has gotten so much easier” since he changed it. Nevertheless, he’s here to ask Amir to speak for a local imam charged with funding terrorism, arguing that the other attorneys on the case aren’t Muslim and therefore can’t help in the same way Amir can. Amir agrees to do what he can, and lives to regret it. …

To read more about this production, continue to my Talkin’ Broadway review: