Benedictus

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Through Oct. 21 at the Thick House, 1695 18th St. (between Carolina and Arkansas), S.F. Tickets are $10-50; call 410-8081 or visit www.goldenthread.org.

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If you read the newspapers with a discerning eye, you'll get the strong sense that we'll be at war with Iran in the very near future. If you are like the vast majority of our nation's populace (myself included), you probably don't know much about Iran outside of talk of nuclear proliferation and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's inflammatory statements denying the Holocaust and stating that Iran has no homosexuals. The new play Benedictus is the result of a collaboration among artists from Iran, Israel, and the U.S. with the purpose of putting a human face on the rising conflicts among these three nations. At the center of this ambitious piece are two men, childhood friends born in Iran, who after being estranged both politically and nationally agree to a secret meeting at a Benedictine monastery in the back streets of Rome. What ensues is a heated personal dialogue that touches on terrorism, blackmail, and bribery. There's also plenty of backroom dealing to essentially avoid World War III. This is a fictionalized meeting, but it offers an intriguing peek into the secret deals and political motivations that are most certainly going on among these three nations behind closed doors in the real world. Motti Lerner's script doesn't offer any clean answers but helps to clarify and humanize the multifaceted issues that are drawing our nations into an avoidable conflict.

 
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