March 28, 2017 paperlesslion

The Jewish Ensemble Theatre rips the Band-Aid off polite society in this story for our time — and our future in Disgraced.

Performances on select dates through April 9 at the Aaron DeRoy Theatre. Get tickets online at jettheatre.org.

Directed by Christopher Bremer, the cast includes Matthew David, Maggie Meyer, Michael Brian Ogden, Casaundra Freeman and Laith Salim.

In the story, Amir Kapoor is a successful Pakistani-American lawyer who is rapidly moving up in the corporate ladder while distancing himself from his cultural roots. Emily, his wife, is white; she’s an artist, and he work is influenced by Islamic imagery. When the couple hosts a dinner party, what starts out as a friendly conversation escalates into something far more damaging.

Theater critic Don Calamia of Encore Michigan shared the following online today:

It’s not often that Detroit Free Press critic John Monaghan bestows his top rating of four stars to a production, but he did so recently to The Jewish Ensemble Theatre’s production of “Disgraced,” calling it a “must-see” show. I totally agree (although I’d quibble with him about it being the “first” such show of the year, but I likely see many more shows than he does.)

Ayad Akhtar’s script won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and director Christopher Bremer brings it to life with as fine a cast as you’ll likely see anywhere in the state. Making their debuts at JET are Maggie Meyer and Matthew David (both established veterans with a long list of excellent work at other theaters), as well as Laith Salim, a young actor whose work I had never seen before but hope to again, thanks to his incredible performance.

Rounding out the cast are Michael Brian Ogden and Casaundra Freeman, both longtime favorites, whose work in this show adds to their reputations as among the finest performers we have in this market.

And when together on stage, these five artists DO make incredible magic together, made especially noteworthy because of the tough subject matter and the roller coaster of emotions all five actors ride throughout the show.

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s risky to talk about religion and/or politics at a dinner party – especially regarding the minefield of terrorism and its related subjects, looked at from the viewpoints of a Pakistani-American and an American Jew – “Disgraced” not only shows you why, it does so by ripping off the band-aid of polite silence and lets the wound bleed.

You can tell when a show rivets its audience to their seats, and Saturday night’s 90-minute (or so), intermissionless performance did just that, as barely a cough was heard throughout the evening. Also intriguing were audible responses from the audience at different points throughout the performance, especially when Matthew’s character talked about how Muslims in the Middle East view Jews and white women.

There’s much to chew on in this show, and I suspect many will walk away with different perspectives and opinions – and, I doubt, anyone will go home with a different outlook on the subjects addressed in the play.

But “Disgraced” certainly tackles its subject matter head on and gets the discussion rolling. And THAT’S what great theater is all about!

The show runs through April 9. Details can be found here: http://www.encoremichigan.com/shows/disgraced-0316-0409