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ReOrient 2005

A series of six plays on Middle East themes succeeds when it uses humor

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Through Dec. 4

Tickets are $15-20

626-4061

ww w.goldenthread.org

Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F.

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For the past seven years, Golden Thread Productions' ReOrient festival has brought the Middle East sharply into focus for Bay Area audiences. Featuring six short plays, this year's series covers themes as broad as cultural difference, typecasting, war, and displacement. Those works that treat difficult or unpleasant subjects through humor are, in general, more effective than those that take a more didactic or abstract approach. For instance, Shahé Man\kerian's Worm, set in a men's restroom at a wedding celebration between an Armenian man and a non-Armenian woman, wittily and lovingly explores the tensions between following your heart and honoring your race; it features animated performances from the entire male cast. Similarly, Enrique Uruéta's Learn to Be Latina delivers a serious message about racial stereotyping in the pop music industry through zany, stylized theatrics. And in Torange Yeghiazarian's bittersweet short, Call Me Mehdi, a mixed-race couple's discussion of Persian jokes opens a complex cultural rift. Unfortunately, the dated expressionism of George Crowe's Parable for a Dark Time, Yussef El Guindi's rambling rant about American intervention in the Middle East, Sniper, and Naomi Wallace's indifferent A State of Innocence -- concerning a confrontation in some kind of zoo-cum-Purgatory among a young Israeli soldier, a Palestinian woman, and a Russian-Jewish architect -- do not live up to the cleverness and grace of the other three offerings.

 
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