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Wednesday, Jan 16 2008

What makes Golden Thread's collection of five short plays about the Middle East better than your average festival aimed at a Large Theme or Important Cause is the theatrical imagination with which the company approaches the various stories. In The Monologist Suffers for Her Monologue, rather than lecture us on the plight of Palestine, playwright Yussef El Guindi and actress Sara Razavi show with wit and insight the struggle of a nation that isn't treated as a nation. Actors Danielle Levin and Julien López-Morillas find a halting, touching connection in Naomi Wallace's Between This Breath and You, a play about a past tragedy that took one life as it gave another. Not all the plays in the nearly two-and-a-half-hour evening work so well: An ambitious and multifaceted staging of a Simin Behbehani poem by Golden Thread's artistic director Torange Yeghiazarian suffers from having so much going on that the power of the words gets lost. But as a whole, the festival does an admirable job confronting the Big, Intractable Issues that surround the Middle East and showing us the people caught inside.

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Molly Rhodes


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