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Last Call: Disgraced at San Diego Rep

Voices you might not hear otherwise

Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013 and is the most-produced play in America. There’s still time to see why. The San Diego Rep’s top-shelf production must close this Sunday.

Disgraced

The fierce drama about racial profiling took on another level of meaning — and has become even more urgent — with the election results (which Thomas Frank saw coming; check out his Listen, Liberal).

Jory, an African-American lawyer, and her husband Isaac, Jewish curator at the Whitney Museum, plan on a relaxed dinner with Amir Kapoor (né Abdullah; he renounced all things Muslim) and Caucasian wife Emily. The four have intricate connections: Amir and Jory work at the same law firm; Isaac wants to promote Emily’s Islam-inspired paintings.

When the play begins, they’re more than on their way: each borders on a version of the American Dream. Or at least that’s how it seems, were one to base a judgement on the surface — i.e., to use racial profiling.

They dine at the Kapoor’s stylish Manhattan apartment (John Iacovelli’s set for the Rep’s so posh, in fact, on opening night one of the ushers shouted, “I want that for my house!”). Gourmet cuisine and ancient single-malt Scotch open fissures, then cracks, then caustic divisions.

Akhtar uses the traditional formula: two married couples seem models of etiquette, then go volcanic (think Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or Reza’s God of Carnage). But with a difference. Although each character is individualized precisely, they also come to represent major fractures in society. And in themselves; they are not at all what they appear.

Or — and here the playwright implicates the audience — what you may have assumed they were. As you watch this play, the play watches you. If it weren’t so compelling, just watching audience reactions would be more than enough drama.

You hear about rage in the media but see only edited excerpts. Disgraced gives voice to different kinds of outrage — and voices you might not hear otherwise.

Playing through November 13

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Ayad Akhtar’s Disgraced won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013 and is the most-produced play in America. There’s still time to see why. The San Diego Rep’s top-shelf production must close this Sunday.

Disgraced

The fierce drama about racial profiling took on another level of meaning — and has become even more urgent — with the election results (which Thomas Frank saw coming; check out his Listen, Liberal).

Jory, an African-American lawyer, and her husband Isaac, Jewish curator at the Whitney Museum, plan on a relaxed dinner with Amir Kapoor (né Abdullah; he renounced all things Muslim) and Caucasian wife Emily. The four have intricate connections: Amir and Jory work at the same law firm; Isaac wants to promote Emily’s Islam-inspired paintings.

When the play begins, they’re more than on their way: each borders on a version of the American Dream. Or at least that’s how it seems, were one to base a judgement on the surface — i.e., to use racial profiling.

They dine at the Kapoor’s stylish Manhattan apartment (John Iacovelli’s set for the Rep’s so posh, in fact, on opening night one of the ushers shouted, “I want that for my house!”). Gourmet cuisine and ancient single-malt Scotch open fissures, then cracks, then caustic divisions.

Akhtar uses the traditional formula: two married couples seem models of etiquette, then go volcanic (think Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or Reza’s God of Carnage). But with a difference. Although each character is individualized precisely, they also come to represent major fractures in society. And in themselves; they are not at all what they appear.

Or — and here the playwright implicates the audience — what you may have assumed they were. As you watch this play, the play watches you. If it weren’t so compelling, just watching audience reactions would be more than enough drama.

You hear about rage in the media but see only edited excerpts. Disgraced gives voice to different kinds of outrage — and voices you might not hear otherwise.

Playing through November 13

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