4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The American Dream side-slips away in Disgraced

Amir's profile

As Disgraced progresses, Amir Kapoor (né Abdullah) exposes himself with an intricate series of conflicting impulses.
As Disgraced progresses, Amir Kapoor (né Abdullah) exposes himself with an intricate series of conflicting impulses.

Donald Trump has no problem with racial profiling. He’d love to stop every Muslim at the border. And, hey, if the police “see somebody that’s suspicious,” he said in a speech, “they will profile. Look what’s going on. Do we really have a choice?”

The poster child for xenophobia, Trump wouldn’t understand the expression “driving while black” or the daily threats and humiliations people must face who look slightly suspicious.

Disgraced

Ayad Akhtar’s on a roll. San Diego has seen his The Who and the What (a father will not let his daughter marry a plumber) and Junk: The Golden Age of Debt (an epic about corporate greed), both world premieres at the La Jolla Playhouse. In 2013, Akhtar won the Pulitzer Prize for Disgraced. The 90-minute drama, currently in a pyrotechnic production at the San Diego Rep, exposes the corrosive effects of racial profiling.

From the looks of things, Amir Kapoor must have it all. He wears blindingly white dress shirts: $600 Charvets, of course, with a five-figure thread count. Blond, attractive wife Emily is an up-and-coming artist specializing in early Islamic aesthetics. Their Upper East Side apartment’s a study in palatial posh. A corporate lawyer specializing in mergers and acquisitions, Amir’s a cinch to become the firm’s next full partner, and first non-Jew.

That’s Amir’s “profile.” When we first see him, he’s posing for Emily. She’s painting a variation on Velazquez’s famous Portrait of Juan de Pareja (his slave, made immortal on canvas). From the waist up, Amir’s dressed to the nines. From the waist down, just sleek black boxers. At the time we note the incongruity and move on. As the play progresses, he’ll expose the rest of himself with an intricate series of conflicting impulses.

Disgraced starts with a formula: two married couples come together — to solve a small grievance in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage; for a nightcap after a faculty nosh in Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Another formula, the couples are a tidy cross-section of races and cultures: Amir (from India?); Caucasian wife Emily; Jory, African-American lawyer on the rise; her Jewish husband Isaac, curator of the Whitney Museum.

In the two couples’ formula, small talk and safe topics give way to confessions, revelations, and breakdowns. The “real,” often monstrous, people come out. What sets Disgraced apart is it’s less easy to watch from afar, to stand outside the cage, than the others. Your first impressions — your pre-judgments — will pull you in, and may have been dead wrong.

To fit the profile of the American Dream, Amir renounced Islam. He changed his last name from Abdullah — a Muslim red flag — to Kapoor, a common name in India, and even his Social Security number. He eats pork and drinks 16-year-old Macallan scotch without fear of divine reprisal. His custom-fit duds, however, didn’t keep a waiter from waving a jihad-fearing finger at him the night before.

From the start, Ronobir Lahiri’s excellent performance at the San Diego Rep suggests Amir’s a bit off. He’s quick to snap and given to expressive stillness. Without ever exaggerating the impression, Lahiri suggests that Amir’s adopted profile has locked him in. The result is an emotional paralysis — a slave to his obsessively cultivated image. During a nine-month period — late summer 2011 to spring of 2012 — Amir will break through, then break down.

His nephew Abe Jensen (né Hussein Malik) wants Amir to support a local imam jailed for financing the enemy. In one of the play’s most telling points, Amir realizes that any association with terrorists — just one dinky percent — could endanger his career. He goes to court anyway, risks exposure, and the New York Times spots him. That tiny aperture, that one slip-up in his cultural assimilation, changes his life.

But, and here’s another of Lahiri’s suggestive nuances: did some part of Amir want it to happen all along?

You can almost hear a clock ticking in the Rep’s production...or a time bomb. Director Michael Arabian builds tension so well it’s certain the fireworks will devastate. But even that sense of growing menace may not prepare you for the fallout from Amir’s manic outbursts. They’re guaranteed to offend just about everyone on the planet, but also to instruct.

The production’s so effective that even when Akhtar layers in a gaggle of melodramatic revelations — all four characters shed their public “profiles” and unveil their real selves — they feel genuine.

One of the play’s themes: people don’t see individuals anymore, just stereotypes and profiles. The Rep’s five-person cast offers proof. They enter pretty much labels-first. But they peel away externals and expose what we might have overlooked. Credit to expert work: Allison Spratt Pearce’s Emily, whose idealism gets a gut check; Richard Baird’s often comical Isaac, way seedier than assumed; Monique Gaffney’s Jory the lawyer who favors “order over justice” (but what about “no justice, no peace”?); and M. Keala Miles, Jr., whose young Abe will de-assimilate and become a fiery Hussein Malik once again.

Place

San Diego Repertory Theatre

79 Horton Plaza, San Diego

Disgraced, by Ayad Akhtar

Directed by Michael Arabian; cast: Ronobir Lahiri, Allison Spratt Pearce, M. Keala Miles, Jr., Richard Baird, Monique Gaffney; scenic design, John Iacovelli; costumes, Anastasia Pauktova; lighting, Brian Gale; sound, Kevin Anthenill

Playing through November 13; Sunday and Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinee Sunday at 2 p.m.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Trattoria Etrusco: like eating a cloud

“This pasaje, I am in love with it. It brings the world.”
As Disgraced progresses, Amir Kapoor (né Abdullah) exposes himself with an intricate series of conflicting impulses.
As Disgraced progresses, Amir Kapoor (né Abdullah) exposes himself with an intricate series of conflicting impulses.

Donald Trump has no problem with racial profiling. He’d love to stop every Muslim at the border. And, hey, if the police “see somebody that’s suspicious,” he said in a speech, “they will profile. Look what’s going on. Do we really have a choice?”

The poster child for xenophobia, Trump wouldn’t understand the expression “driving while black” or the daily threats and humiliations people must face who look slightly suspicious.

Disgraced

Ayad Akhtar’s on a roll. San Diego has seen his The Who and the What (a father will not let his daughter marry a plumber) and Junk: The Golden Age of Debt (an epic about corporate greed), both world premieres at the La Jolla Playhouse. In 2013, Akhtar won the Pulitzer Prize for Disgraced. The 90-minute drama, currently in a pyrotechnic production at the San Diego Rep, exposes the corrosive effects of racial profiling.

From the looks of things, Amir Kapoor must have it all. He wears blindingly white dress shirts: $600 Charvets, of course, with a five-figure thread count. Blond, attractive wife Emily is an up-and-coming artist specializing in early Islamic aesthetics. Their Upper East Side apartment’s a study in palatial posh. A corporate lawyer specializing in mergers and acquisitions, Amir’s a cinch to become the firm’s next full partner, and first non-Jew.

That’s Amir’s “profile.” When we first see him, he’s posing for Emily. She’s painting a variation on Velazquez’s famous Portrait of Juan de Pareja (his slave, made immortal on canvas). From the waist up, Amir’s dressed to the nines. From the waist down, just sleek black boxers. At the time we note the incongruity and move on. As the play progresses, he’ll expose the rest of himself with an intricate series of conflicting impulses.

Disgraced starts with a formula: two married couples come together — to solve a small grievance in Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage; for a nightcap after a faculty nosh in Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Another formula, the couples are a tidy cross-section of races and cultures: Amir (from India?); Caucasian wife Emily; Jory, African-American lawyer on the rise; her Jewish husband Isaac, curator of the Whitney Museum.

In the two couples’ formula, small talk and safe topics give way to confessions, revelations, and breakdowns. The “real,” often monstrous, people come out. What sets Disgraced apart is it’s less easy to watch from afar, to stand outside the cage, than the others. Your first impressions — your pre-judgments — will pull you in, and may have been dead wrong.

To fit the profile of the American Dream, Amir renounced Islam. He changed his last name from Abdullah — a Muslim red flag — to Kapoor, a common name in India, and even his Social Security number. He eats pork and drinks 16-year-old Macallan scotch without fear of divine reprisal. His custom-fit duds, however, didn’t keep a waiter from waving a jihad-fearing finger at him the night before.

From the start, Ronobir Lahiri’s excellent performance at the San Diego Rep suggests Amir’s a bit off. He’s quick to snap and given to expressive stillness. Without ever exaggerating the impression, Lahiri suggests that Amir’s adopted profile has locked him in. The result is an emotional paralysis — a slave to his obsessively cultivated image. During a nine-month period — late summer 2011 to spring of 2012 — Amir will break through, then break down.

His nephew Abe Jensen (né Hussein Malik) wants Amir to support a local imam jailed for financing the enemy. In one of the play’s most telling points, Amir realizes that any association with terrorists — just one dinky percent — could endanger his career. He goes to court anyway, risks exposure, and the New York Times spots him. That tiny aperture, that one slip-up in his cultural assimilation, changes his life.

But, and here’s another of Lahiri’s suggestive nuances: did some part of Amir want it to happen all along?

You can almost hear a clock ticking in the Rep’s production...or a time bomb. Director Michael Arabian builds tension so well it’s certain the fireworks will devastate. But even that sense of growing menace may not prepare you for the fallout from Amir’s manic outbursts. They’re guaranteed to offend just about everyone on the planet, but also to instruct.

The production’s so effective that even when Akhtar layers in a gaggle of melodramatic revelations — all four characters shed their public “profiles” and unveil their real selves — they feel genuine.

One of the play’s themes: people don’t see individuals anymore, just stereotypes and profiles. The Rep’s five-person cast offers proof. They enter pretty much labels-first. But they peel away externals and expose what we might have overlooked. Credit to expert work: Allison Spratt Pearce’s Emily, whose idealism gets a gut check; Richard Baird’s often comical Isaac, way seedier than assumed; Monique Gaffney’s Jory the lawyer who favors “order over justice” (but what about “no justice, no peace”?); and M. Keala Miles, Jr., whose young Abe will de-assimilate and become a fiery Hussein Malik once again.

Place

San Diego Repertory Theatre

79 Horton Plaza, San Diego

Disgraced, by Ayad Akhtar

Directed by Michael Arabian; cast: Ronobir Lahiri, Allison Spratt Pearce, M. Keala Miles, Jr., Richard Baird, Monique Gaffney; scenic design, John Iacovelli; costumes, Anastasia Pauktova; lighting, Brian Gale; sound, Kevin Anthenill

Playing through November 13; Sunday and Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinee Sunday at 2 p.m.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Utterly alone with abortion, Father Bud Kaicher's court statement, behind Debby Fleming's suicide

Clinic bomber interviewed, writer and girlfriend dance around the decision, mom takes kids to pray at abortionist's, where the San Diego fetuses go
Next Article

The problem with Coronado’s 4x4 accelerated learning

Damage to kids’ lives
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close