Back of the Throat

What starts out as an intriguing standoff becomes a predictable tirade

Two Homeland Security investigators (James Reese and Paul Santiago) pay an Arab-American man, Khaled (James Asher), a visit. As one investigator pokes around Khaled's squalid studio apartment looking for God knows what and the other asks bizarre questions about the bookish young man's taste in literature and favorite pastimes, Khaled's mood switches from cordiality to fear. There is much to savor in this production: Director Tony Kelly elegantly handles the play's numerous digressions into the past, creating an appropriately nightmarish quality for this Kafka-esque drama about guilt and suspicion. The actors achieve a fine balance between innocuous humor and menacing darkness against James Faerron's versatile set. Unfortunately, what starts out as an intriguing standoff between two grotesquely comic book-like suits and a shifty-eyed intellectual winds up being little more than a predictable tirade against the U.S. government's maniacal internal security strategies. Yussef El Guindi is a skillful playwright; I only wish he could have found a more original premise through which to view this administration's misguided soul.

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