A solid but overwritten tale of international politics and self-discovery


Through Feb. 28

Tickets are $12-20


www.sffri nge.org

Exit Theater, 156 Eddy (between Mason and Taylor), S.F.

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Jay Levin's new play is loosely based on Steve McCurry, the photographer responsible for the famous image of an Afghan girl with haunted green eyes that became a symbol of National Geographic in the 1980s. McCurry found the girl again two years ago, all grown up and living under a veil in Afghanistan. (She was sorry the Taliban had to go.) In Levin's play, a war photographer named George moves obsessively from one danger zone to another, risking his skin and spending time away from his wife to find an image or a person who might fulfill him in a way his family doesn't. An Afghan girl he once photographed becomes the focus of this quest. ("Her eyes blossomed sun-spears," he says. "The endless dawn of them pierced me.") What might be a solid tale of international politics and self-discovery is overwritten, unfortunately: George talks a lot, in purple prose, about his obsessions with misery, war, and the Afghan girl, but we never quite understand his crisis. Fred Sharkey overacts him, and a layer of cliché clings to all the characters. "I don't want someone who sees with his eyes open," says George's frantic wife, Margie (Manjit Singh), urging him to come home. "I want someone who feels with his eyes shut! If you can't, you're just like all the other men ...." We're meant to take that seriously. None of the plot is unlikely, but every word of the play is forced; Levin's script indulges in maybe too much closed-eyes feeling at the expense of honest sight.

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