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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at DR2 Theatre

By Matt Windman

  Arian Moayed and Daoud Heidami/PH: Aaron Epstein

Once we sat down and opened up our program at Masked, a new Off-Broadway play about three Palestinian brothers, before even seeing the cast bios, we were greeted by a stern warning from the director: "Masked is not a pro-Palestinian play. It is not a pro-Israeli play. Please put aside preconceptions and political doctrines."

Dramas about the contemporary Palestinian experience have become a hot item for Off-Broadway. One of the theater's biggest news items last year involved New York Theatre Workshop's cancellation of The Notebooks of Rachel Corrie, based on the activities of the American pro-Palestinian protestor, which was finally performed in October. Other works have included Sixteen Wounded, which played a short run on Broadway, and The Black Eyed, which just opened at NYTW.

Masked has an unusual story of preconception. It was written in 1990 in Hebrew by Ilan Hatsor, who was only 18 at the time, and stands out as a drama written by an Israeli about a group of Palestinians that has since been performed for both Israeli and Palestinian audiences. Though the play's events are set in 1990, its plot involves a melodrama that is more dependent on the story of its characters than on the neighboring political antagonisms of the region.

Director Ami Dayan's warning is quite accurate. Masked has little, if anything, to say politically. Rather, it is an intimate, straightforward, very short three-character drama set in the back room of a West Bank butcher shop. Essentially, one brother accuses his sibling of being an Israeli spy, that brother accuses the other of going too far with the Palestinian resistance movement, and the youngest brother looks on in despair and helplessness.

One could take away from the play a sense of how loyalty to a fierce political cause can drive a family apart, but Masked was written with the touches of a potboiler melodrama and action film, stuffed with surprise, betrayal, violence and so on. Luckily, however, the small cast ( Sanjit DeSilva, Daoud Heidami and Arian Moayed) works tremendously well together, bringing the play more appeal than it would have on paper.



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