Disgraced – Rose Niland Reviews Sydney Theatre Company Drama

AMIR KAPOOR

Amir Kapoor (Sachin Joab) in Disgraced, photo by Prudence Upton, courtesy Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney

The Sydney Theatre Company production of Disgraced grips audiences with an intelligent drama that poses crucial and relevant questions of immediacy to current life as we know it.

These questions relate to religion, culture, race and identity that present our existing world with catastrophic, alarming outcomes and the need to make wise and informed decisions.

The implications of the events of 9/11 on American-Islamic relations and the aftermath perceptions, seep into the domestic setting of what is a thought provoking theatrical experience.

Ayad Akhtar the American playwright has written a play that escalates into a confronting interconnected narrative. This Pulitzer Prize (2013) winner bravely explores and tackles issues that raise debate and challenge perceptions.

Elizabeth Gadsby, designer has crafted a stylish set reflecting the upmarket interior of an elegant contemporary Manhattan apartment.

Disgraced photo Prudence Upton detail

Amir Kapoor (Sachin Joab) in Disgraced, detail: photo by Prudence Upton, courtesy Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney

The exceptionally high wood panelled windows communicate a luxurious lifestyle and an open and spacious atmosphere.

The fashionable furniture enriches the ambience and eloquently amplifies the high financial status of its inhabitants.

Amir Kapoor (Sachin Joab) is a very successful New York corporate lawyer married to Emily (Sophie Ross) an artist charmed by “the Islamic tiling tradition.”

Amir’s denounced Islamic faith unsettles and ignites friction, undermining the loving intimacy between husband and wife.

The natural dialogue and comical scenes brand the play real and believable.

The catalyst for appalling consequences begins when Amir’s nephew Hussein (Shiv Palekar), pleads for Amir to represent an imam who is imprisoned for funding terrorism.

The tension between Amir and Emily builds and subsides as they prepare for a dinner party of shocking consequences.

Isaac (Glen Hazeldine) a Jewish curator and his African-American wife Jory (Paula Arundell) a lawyer colleague of Amir are the dinner party guests.

The amiable conversation is peppered with humour.

Amir Kapoor (Sachin Joab)

Amir Kapoor (Sachin Joab) and Sophie Ross (Emily) in Disgraced, photo by Prudence Upton, courtesy Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney

Shattering secrets are exposed and the acceleration of tension from different values and startling events is extremely painful and disturbing.

Sarah Goodes’ perceptive and fluent direction allows human frailty and the complex issues of religion, race and identity to be at the forefront of this distressing journey’s evolvement.

She has expertly guided and nurtured superb performances from all the cast members.

Sarah focused the scene at the dinner table with a persuasive sense of realism that was palpable in the acting.

Disgraced

Scene from Disgraced, photo by Prudence Upton, courtesy Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney

Her commitment to the humanity within the play was totally aligned to the playwright’s intention and accordingly the audience engagement was intense and unequivocal.

In her notes she writes Ayad Akhtar’s play “vibrates with a sense of tragic inevitability – the harder our hero tries to outrun his past, the faster and more ruthlessly it pursues him.”

Sachin Joab and Shiv Palekar both make their Sydney Theatre Company debut in this production.

This is Sachin Joab’s first role in professional theatre and his talented execution is a milestone in his diverse career.

Disgraced

Scene from Disgraced, photo by Prudence Upton, courtesy Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney

Sachin Joab’s portrayal of Amir, sensitively delivers a heightened awareness of a complex troubled character and the turmoil that boils incessantly below his confident facade. Sachin delivers a very fine and accomplished performance.

The artist’s persona and idealist temperament shimmers in Sophie Ross’s performance as Emily.

Her portrayal of self-discovery is touchingly interpreted and rendered with harrowing intensity.

Glen Hazeldine is assured and forceful in his role as the Jewish curator who is interested in showing Emily’s artwork in an upcoming major exhibition.

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Scene from Disgraced, photo by Prudence Upton, courtesy Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney

Paula Arundell oozes the style and confidence of the successful Jory and exudes the radiance of stage presence that illuminates a tangible audience response.

The Lighting Designer, Damien Cooper’s stamp on the production is evident from the very first lighting arrangement.

This cleverly orchestrated lighting sequence invited the audience into the apartment, suspended reality with a subtlety that was imaginative and very effective.

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Scene from Disgraced, photo by Prudence Upton, courtesy Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney

The lighting reflected moods, time and seasons. It cast a glow of winning coherence across the production.

Composer and Sound Designer, Steve Francis used music and sound hauntingly to build tension and provide appropriate pauses for audience reflection and anticipation.

Cast and Creatives complimented Ayad Akhtar’s compelling and skilfully shaped play. Each of their roles was integrally linked and interwoven to construct a creation of excellence and importance.

In an interview with Madani Younis, Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in London, where Disgraced opened in May 2013, Ayad Akhtar articulated

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Scene from Disgraced, photo by Prudence Upton, courtesy Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney

“The play begins with a Western consciousness representing a Muslim subject. The play ends with the Muslim subject observing the fruits of that representation.”

Disgraced is a play of our times and the Sydney Theatre Company’s production is theatre at its very best.

Sydney Theatre Company
presents
Disgraced

16 April – 4 June
Wharf 1 Theatre
Sydney

SEASON 2016

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